SB 58

Colorado House Judiciary Committee Advances SB24-58 to Protect 14er Access

DENVER, COLORADO – In a significant step forward for outdoor enthusiasts and private landowners in Colorado, Senate Bill 58 (SB24-58) has successfully passed through the Colorado House Judiciary Committee today following a 9-1 vote by its members. This comes on the heels of a unanimous 28-0 passage in the Colorado Senate earlier this month, signaling strong bipartisan support for the legislation. The bill now moves to the full House for further debate and a vote. If approved, it will be sent to Governor Jared Polis for his signature or veto.

SB 58 would update the state’s recreational use statute by setting clearer expectations for landowners on warning or guarding visitors about known hazards. Key to the bill is the provision allowing landowners to install a single warning sign at the main access point to their land, using pre-approved language. This measure aims to eliminate the need for multiple signs across a property, each indicating individual hazards. Additionally, the bill delineates that individuals who venture off pre-approved trails, routes, and areas are considered trespassers and have limited legal recourse if injured.

During the hearing, notable representatives from the Fix CRUS Coalition, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Water Congress, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Colorado Mountain Club, Boulder Climbing Community, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, The Next Summit, and local landowners like John Reiber supported SB-58.

A key point of discussion was the legal distinction between a landowner knowing of a hazard versus a landowner who should have known about a hazard. Alex Derr, secretary of the Fix CRUS Coalition, emphasized the trade-off between access and safety. Derr highlighted that demanding excessive safety measures from landowners could lead to reduced access for recreational activities. He stated that the coalition believes the current balance is overly focused on risk management and that the community they represent would prefer to assume some level of risk to ensure and expand access to outdoor spaces.

The committee’s deliberations ended on a lighter note, with members humorously debating the correct count of Colorado’s 14ers. The debate concluded with the acknowledgment that, according to the U.S. Forest Service, there are 54 recognized 14ers in the state.

As SB24-58 moves closer to becoming law, it’s crucial for outdoor enthusiasts to remember the importance of respecting private property rights while enjoying Colorado’s vast public lands. Here are some tips for recreating responsibly:

  1. Stay on Designated Trails: Always use marked trails and areas to minimize your impact on the environment and respect private lands adjoining public spaces.
  2. Obey Signage: Pay attention to and follow all posted signs, especially those indicating private property or restricted areas.
  3. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty and health of the outdoors for others to enjoy.
  4. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance, and do not feed or approach animals.
  5. Plan Ahead: Know the rules and regulations of the area you’re visiting, including any specific guidance related to private lands or protected areas.

 

SB24-58 represents a critical step in balancing the interests of landowners with the desires of outdoor enthusiasts to access and enjoy Colorado’s renowned landscapes. By clarifying the responsibilities and rights of both parties, the bill aims to foster a more respectful and sustainable relationship between landowners and the public.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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