DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s famed 14ers are on the “path to permanent protection” with the recent purchase of Mount Democrat by a nonprofit.
The Conservation Fund purchased Mount Democrat from a private landowner, according to a press release. This means you no longer need a liability waiver to hike to the summit, which is one of the changes proposed by the previous owner.
Access to many privately owned 14ers was closed after a bill protecting landowners against liability failed in March. Since then, a few 14ers reopened under certain conditions, including Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat.
Previous landowner John Reiber allowed access with a liability waiver. With The Conservation Fund purchasing some of the land from Reiber, the liability waiver is no longer needed to summit Mount Democrat.
While private lands like Mount Lincoln still need a liability waiver, many other 14ers are still closed, including the summit of Mount Bross. The Conservation Fund isn’t currently working on opening another 14er, but it’s not out of the question.
“We stand ready to purchase other lands where landowners are interested,” said Kelly Ingebritson, the project manager.
As far as liability concerns, The Conservation Fund is prepared for the responsibility, said Ingebritson.
The plan is to convey the land to the U.S. Forest Service by the end of the year for long-term ownership. The land will be purchased with the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the nation’s best conservation funding sources.
The Forest Service originally asked The Conservation Fund to work with private landowners so it could eventually manage Mount Democrat for public recreation.
Depending on the agreement and interest of landowners, The Conservation Fund is prepared to buy 14ers from private landowners to relinquish liability and open them up to the public.