Public-Private Partnership Keeps 14er Peaks Open in Park County

The 14,000 foot summits of Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross, also known as the “Decalibron Loop”, surrounding Kite Lake near Alma, Colorado,are some of the most accessible 14ers in the state. However, three of the four peaks are privately owned and overuse and liability concerns have led to closure of the area in past years. This year, a working group led by the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), developed a collaborative solution to expand partnership agreements and conservation efforts on the Decalibron Loop in order to keep the area open for public use.

The Town of Alma manages an access permit with the U.S. Forest Service to collect parking fees at the Kite Lake trailhead which helps to cover the cost of bathroom facilities, road maintenance, and more. Now, under a new agreement between the Town and the CMC, funds will also help cover trail maintenance, sign installation, visitor use tracking, and water quality monitoring to better understand and mitigate the impacts of recreation use on and around the peaks.

“In recent years we’ve seen three to four hundred climbers accessing the Decalibron Loop from the Kite Lake Trailhead on any given Saturday,” said CMC Conservation Coordinator Kendall Chastain. “That level of use is unsustainable without additional trail management and user education.”

CMC will be hosting trailhead ambassadors at Kite Lake throughout the summer to promote responsible use of the 14ers, share Leave No Trace information, and gather survey data from hikers. SIGN UP FOR A WEEKEND SHIFT HERE!

Additionally, CMC will install and monitor vehicle and trail counters to assemble more accurate data on usage trends and impacts. This will help inform an on-going Forest Service planning process to address infrastructure needs as well as future capacity issues.

“It is important to note that the summit of Mt. Bross remains closed to the public due to fractional private ownership,” says Chastain. “We ask that climbers please respect the closure of Mt. Bross and stay on the authorized trail so that we can maintain good relationships with the private landowners and ensure the peaks remain open.”

CMC will publish the findings from its monitoring and surveying efforts this fall but the work is not done. The Club hopes to ensure long-term, sustainable access to these peaks through policy changes at the state legislative level and will need hikers and climbers to amplify the voice of outdoor recreation access. To contribute to CMC’s efforts on this campaign, please make a donation to our Peak Fund here: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/cc-pf

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