Access to two of Colorado’s 58 over 14,000′ peaks has been shut down following the death of a bill set to protect property owners in lawsuits, according to Colorado Sun journalist Jason Blevins. Mount Democrat and Mount Lincoln, owned by John Reiber, both make up a portion of the Decalibron Loop, a major source of tourism and profit for the Town of Alma.
Senate Bill 103, shot down in state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, was set to remove an exception from the 1977 Colorado Recreational Use Statute allowing injured parties to hold landowners liable in the case of “willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a known dangerous condition, use, structure, or activity likely to cause harm.”
“I have been advised by my own attorneys on several occasions that I am rolling the dice by leaving these peaks open. Now, I do plan to close the 14ers for access. Without any regulatory support … I can no longer take on the level of risk in case someone gets hurt and wants to sue me.” -John Reiber
The proposal was made following a 2019 federal appeals court decision in which the Air Force Academy was held liable for the injury of a mountain biker in 2008. According to the court, the Air Force Academy knew about the damaged trail that injured the cyclist and did nothing to warn visitors.
The Town of Alma, with a population of 325, will likely take a large economic hit with the closure of access to the Decalibron Loop. According to an estimate from the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a closure of the two mountains in 2021 cost local communities $5 million, cutting visitor numbers by around 20,000.
It seems INSANE to me that anyone can have the power to close off access to something like a 14er, but that’s the way it is in this world. I really don’t believe, and this is my own opinion here, that it’s fair for Mr. Reiber to claim that he’s closing access to the 14ers for fear of being held liable in the case of injury. This exception has been in place for quite a while now, and, as attorney Kari Jones Dulin points out, the Air Force Academy case was the only one of its kind in 26 years. For Reiber to be held liable, there would have to be evidence that an individual was injured due to a dangerous condition that he A) knew about and B) chose to do nothing about.
That said, people seem to have a nasty habit of failing to respect private property on a lot of these major hikes. Reiber was considering closing access in 2022 because of exactly that. Those closures, in my mind, feel a bit more understandable. So, please, respect no trespassing signs, practice leave no trace, and just, in general, don’t be a bunghole.
Featured Image Credit: Kristian Ranstrom on Unsplash
This article was originally published by Unofficialnetworks.com. Read the original article here.