Town leases high peaks, reopens them to hikers
August 8, 2006
ALMA, Colo. ” After nearly a year of “no trespassing” signs, hikers will again be welcome on three 14,000-foot mountains after this small town leased the peaks from their private owners and accepted liability if anyone gets hurt.
The owners last summer closed access to three of Colorado’s famed “Fourteeners” ” Mount Democrat, Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross ” fearing liability if a hiker got hurt. Alma leased all three for a total of $1 a month and plans to open the trails sometime next year.
The deal was sealed Aug. 1 when the town board signed a lease for 3,900 acres with landowners Maurice and John Reiber, Ben Wright, Park Lake Resources LLC and Energy Resources LLC.
Mayor Mark Dowaliby said reopening the peaks will help businesses in Alma, Fairplay and surrounding Park County. The town enjoys governmental immunity in lawsuits, which limits how much it could be sued for.
The mountains are popular with “peak baggers,” hikers who try to climb all or some of the 54 Colorado Fourteeners.
Linda Balough, coordinator of the Park County Historic Preservation Advisory Commission, said that unlike most other Fourteeners, Democrat, Lincoln and Bross have treacherous open pits and mines that hikers could fall into if they stray from the trail.
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Balough’s organization will help mark the trail with caution signs and markers explaining the mining history of the region and will help open new trails into previously closed areas.
Alma is about 65 miles southwest of Denver.