For nearly a year, Mount Lindsey has been closed to climbers due to liability concerns – the sixth fourteener lost to public access in the past two decades. While access to others, like Mount Democrat and Lincoln, have already been restored, others like Mount Bross have been closed for a long time – two decades. New legislation, SB 23-203, may be the key to re-securing public access to Mount Lindsey, and someday Mount Bross as well. Here is some background information about the Mount Lindsey closure and what this bill would due to restore access to the 14er.
If you’re ready to take action and contact your legislators to support this bill, click below to visit the Action Center on the Fix CRUS Coalition website.
Table of Contents
SB 23-103 Updates the CRUS to Provide More Liability Protection to Landowners Who Grant Free Public Access
Outdoor recreation is an important part of Colorado culture and the economy, employing 125,000 workers and contributing $11.6 billion to the state. While Colorado has large areas of public land available for recreation, privately owned land also plays an important role.
The Colorado Recreational Use Statute (CRUS) recognizes this role for private property owners and provides liability protection to those that allow recreational use of their land free of charge. However, the current version of the CRUS, as interpreted by courts, leaves landowners vulnerable to liability for recreational injuries on their property.
The Air Force Academy Lost $7 Million After a Bicyclist Hit a Wash-out on an Unofficial Bike Trail on Their Land
A recent high-profile case involving the Colorado Air Force Academy made this risk evident; a bicyclist received $7 million after he hit a washed out trail and a court found the Academy had willfully failed to warn him of it. The lawsuit has created a chilling effect on landowners concerned about liability. To reduce their legal exposure many are closing access to their land, including in areas where they had previously allowed public access – especially where old mining equipment, tunnels, cliffs, and other dangerous terrain is found.
Mount Lindsey was Closed to Public Access in the Summer of 2022 Due to Liability Concerns Among the Owners
Mount Lindsey is a rugged class three fourteener just east of the San Luis Valley. While most of the route falls on public land, the final portion of the two routes to the summit along a ridge or gully both fall on private land. Owned by a large nearby ranch with conservation leanings, they have allowed public access for decades – until the recent Air Force Academy case called that wisdom into question.
In the summer of 2022, the owners erected a no-trespassing sign on the saddle near their property line and announced the closure. However, they signaled that they would restore access if the liability loophole was closed. While the owners of Mount Bross have made no commitments, they have made similar suggestions as well.
The Next Summit Joins a Broad Coalition Supporting this Legislation to Restore Public Access to Mount Lindsey
The Next Summit has been working with the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) for over two years to research the legal and policy issues at stake and identify a path forward. The CMC in particular has been a champion, working with multiple stakeholders including the USFS, nonprofits, private property owners, and local and state governments to address the problem at its source by revising the CRUS. We are proud to support this legislation and public access to private land for outdoor recreation.
We Need Your Help: Take Action to Help Us Re-open Mount Lindsey!
Click here and take action to support SB 23-103 on the CMC Action Alert page:
- Contact the 5 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and urge them to support SB 23-103. The Committee has its first hearing on the bill on Wednesday, March 1, at 1:30 pm. Its members include:
- Sen. Dylan Roberts (D-CO-008)
- Sen. Bob Gardner (R-CO-012)
- Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-CO-030)
- Sen. Robert Rodriguez(D-CO-032)
- Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-CO-034)
- Contact Governor Jared Polis and urge him to support SB 23-103.
- Contact your own representative and senator and urge them to support and consider co-sponsoring SB 23-103. Click here to find your legislators and send them an email.
Learn more and get involved with the coalition of 28+ organizations working to address the situation, find a solution, and restore access to these peaks at www.fixCRUS.org.
Thank you to all those whose work has helped make this legislation a reality – your support for public land is making a real difference.
Additional Resources Related to the Mount Lindsey Closure
Here are some additional websites and resources related to the 14ers on private land, including Mount Bross and the Mount Lindsey closure, our research, and this new legislation (SB 23-103).