New Bill SB-58 to Protect Access

Landmark Legislation Introduced to Safeguard Access to Colorado’s 14ers

DENVER, COLORADO – In a significant move to protect Colorado’s cherished natural landscapes and outdoor recreational activities, the Fix CRUS Coalition has introduced a groundbreaking bill in the Colorado Senate. Named SB-58, this bill seeks to revise the Colorado Recreational Use Statute (CRUS), striking a balance between the rights of landowners and public access to the state’s iconic outdoor areas.

Alex Derr, Secretary of the Fix CRUS Coalition, emphasized the bill’s dual focus on providing landowner protection while maintaining safety and transparency for the public. SB-58 emerges as a response to a critical need for legislative reform sparked by a 2019 lawsuit involving a mountain biker and the US Air Force Academy, which resulted in a substantial $7.3 million judgment and escalated liability concerns among landowners.

The aftereffects of this legal decision have been profound. Rising insurance premiums and legal uncertainties led to restricted access to popular outdoor spaces, including temporary limitations to five of Colorado’s 14ers and significant changes at the Ouray Ice Park and the Leadville 100 race. These developments underscored the need for a revised legal framework to protect both landowners and outdoor enthusiasts.

SB-58 introduces several key reforms to achieve this goal:

  • A Simplified Hazard Warning System, allowing landowners to use a single warning sign at main access points to address both natural and specific manmade hazards.
  • Designation of Official Access Points, providing landowners with the authority to define legal entry points to their properties.
  • Visitor Boundary Regulations, mandating that visitors adhere to approved trails and areas, with deviations offering legal protection to landowners.
  • Expanded Recreation Coverage, extending CRUS to cover contemporary outdoor activities such as trail running, backcountry skiing, and kayaking.

 

Importantly, SB-58 retains crucial aspects of the existing CRUS, including no protection for landowners charging access fees and the liberty for landowners to specify permissible types of recreation.

Mt Democrat, pictured above, was sold last year due to landowner liability concerns.

This bill is supported by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, including Senators Mark Baisley (R-District 4) and Dylan Roberts (D-District 8), and Representatives Brianna Titone (D-District 27) and Shannon Bird (D-District 29), highlighting a collaborative approach to preserving Colorado’s outdoor heritage.

As SB-58 progresses through the legislative process, the Fix CRUS Coalition remains committed to a bipartisan strategy, ensuring the sustainable accessibility and preservation of Colorado’s natural spaces for future generations. For more information, visit www.fixCRUS.org.

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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