In a landmark move, the Conservation Fund recently acquired nearly 300 acres surrounding 14,148-foot Mount Democrat, including its trailhead and summit. This acquisition opens the door to secure public access to one of Colorado’s most beloved Fourteeners. The land will ultimately be transferred to the U.S. Forest Service by the end of 2023, ensuring long-term preservation and public accessibility.
This development follows three years of negotiations between landowners and multiple groups, including several coalition members: the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative, and Earth Energy Resources.
While this move protects access to Mount Democrat and Mount Cameron, it leaves the rest of the Decalibron Loop, including Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross, on private land with access at risk in the future. Without improvements to state law, Lincoln will close again next spring due to flaws in the Colorado recreational use statute, which protects landowners who allow free outdoor recreation access. The Fix CRUS Coalition continues to push for a fix that will address these concerns for good to protect access for the future.
Outdoor recreation is deeply woven into the cultural and economic fabric of Colorado. A case in point is the DeCaLiBron Loop, a 8-mile hike that allows outdoor enthusiasts to summit Mount Democrat and three other Fourteeners in one trip. Before Mount Democrat’s trailhead was initially closed, this loop generated approximately $5 million annually for local communities. This is a single example among many; our Fourteeners are not just peaks—they are crucial drivers of Colorado’s economy.
The sale of Mount Democrat marks a significant milestone, but there are more mountains to climb, both literally and figuratively. As residents and visitors of this beautiful state, it is our shared responsibility to advocate for stronger CRUS reforms that will protect our natural resources and the economic benefits they bring. For as much as Mount Democrat is a win, it’s a single battle in a much larger war to protect Colorado’s outdoor heritage.
Help restore access by signing our petition, making a donation to fuel our grassroots advocacy, and sharing this article with your networks online and on social media. Watch the video below to learn more, and contact your state legislator to urge them to strengthen CRUS.
Together, we can protect outdoor recreation access in Colorado for generations to come. Thank you for your support.