At the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC), efforts in land stewardship, acquisition, and protection are made possible because of SCC members.

We exceeded our membership drive goal, and up to $15,000 was matched by three partner gyms across the southeast. 

To celebrate, we are introducing some of our members publicly. Their stories illustrate how membership benefits our organization, climbers, local communities, and the land we love.

In our last post, we introduced Markham Tuck and looked at a few ways membership impacts climbers individually.

In this post, let’s dive into how membership dollars impact the environment around us and get to know one of our leading advocates: Cody Roney.

Protecting our land and all that comes with it

One of the SCC’s biggest priorities is securing access for climbing now and for the next generation. These efforts protect our beloved boulder fields and crags. But they also keep flora, fauna, tree canopy, streams, and wildlife safe in their natural habitat and protected from development.

For many climbers, the outdoor element to climbing and the presence of wildness is vitally important. Our experiences are often enriched by the sensory experience of nature.

For Cody Roney, the value of land protection has been a pinnacle to her identity as a climber from the beginning. “Having now worked in the land conservation world for over a decade, [the] SCC stands out among access organizations and land trusts nationwide because of its amazing capacity to purchase and protect land with little to no staff,” she says.

Cody, who is a former executive director of the SCC, is from Alabama and began climbing at areas like Horsepens 40.

“Thanks to great mentorship, early on in my climbing days I gained an understanding of just how sensitive and complex Southeastern climbing is,” she explains.

Sensitivities around land ownership and management, as well as climber conservation—the intersection of climbing and environmental conservation—have grown tremendously in the past few years. Because of climbing’s recent attention in the media and involvement in the Olympics, it has a growing repertoire and popularity across the globe.

Too, after the challenges of a global pandemic, more people than ever are turning to the outdoors for solace and activity.

“Existing places for these activities are becoming overextended,” says Meg Evans, executive director of the SCC. “And, more people are seeking out opportunities to protect natural resources on recreational lands. This is a place where conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts can work together, to protect our natural places for the variety of resources they offer: unique ecology, habitat and species protection, protected waterway corridors, unique features for climbing, trails through forests, topography for bikers, and so on.”

A small but mighty team

The SCC is intentional in working towards these efforts. “There is so much happening behind the scenes all the time, and the fact that SCC has accomplished the feat of helping protect thousands of acres of land is incredible,” says Cody.

Cody says the SCC’s success in land acquisition and stewardship is largely possible because of a strong community of dedicated supporters.

“The SCC has an incredible history, starting with dedicated volunteers and building to a small staff of three,” she explains.

“I might not climb as much as I used to, but I’ll continue my monthly giving as long as I can because the SCC is truly putting our money to work.”

Be a part of something big

For those on the fence about joining, Cody recommends spending one day shadowing an SCC employee and witnessing the hard work they put in everyday to support climbing.

“If you are already an SCC member, consider doubling or tripling your donation. Imagine how much the SCC could do if every Southeastern climber was an SCC member or donor!”

In closing, Cody says, “Buying land is not cheap. Caring for and maintaining that land is not cheap. Building relationships with private land owners and managers is not cheap. The SCC isn’t just about throwing parties (but they sure throw one hell of a party. The SCC ensures that you, your children, your grandchildren, and their grandchildren can experience the love and fulfillment you did when you started climbing. Isn’t that worth more than $35 a year?”

Written by Mary Ashley Canevaro