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Land Donation Puts Outdoor Recreational Crisis on Ice

Climber ascends vertical wall at Ouray Ice Park

In December, Dufford Waldeck proudly worked with our client, Eric Jacobson, to orchestrate a truly generous gesture: the donation of 7.5 acres of his private property to the City of Ouray Ice Park. Jacobson’s long commitment to the City of Ouray and his belief in the value of the Ice Park motivated him to offer to donate the land to the city to ensure that climbers will have access to both rock and ice within the canyon, while hikers and runners can enjoy the narrow canyon-top trails.


For the donation to happen, partner Rob Pierce worked with the City of Ouray, Ouray County, and the nonprofit Ouray Ice Park for over 8 months.  The donation had been discussed many times in past years but had stalled because of the hurdles presented by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the need for numerous cross easements, the requirement to address preexisting agreements with the Forest Service, and the need for land use approvals from the County.  This year, however, the parties were motivated to work together quickly to ensure that the Ice Park could open on schedule for the 2023/2024 winter season. 


Allowing the public to use their land for pursuits as risky as ice climbing would have given some landowners pause, but in the past, Jacobson had been satisfied with the liability protections provided by the Colorado Recreational Use Act. That Act provides private landowners with certain protections against liability if they allow the public to use their land for recreational activities, assuming the conditions of the statute are met.  However, a recent Colorado Supreme Court case cast doubt on those liability protections and created a potential crisis for the Ice Park. This remarkable donation ensures the perpetual existence of the world-class ice climbing venue throughout the winter and the exhilarating Ouray Via Ferrata experience during the summer months.


The Ouray County Plain Dealer wrote an article about the landmark donation with more details:

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