Access Fund Secures Longterm Climbing Friendly Owner for Colorado's Society Turn

After 23 years of ownership, Access Fund is pleased to announce the transfer of Society Turn in western Colorado to San Miguel County for long-term climbing friendly management.

Photo courtesy of Telluride Adaptive Sports

The 6-acre property outside Telluride features a sandstone cliff line with a couple dozen boulder problems and top rope routes. The area has been enjoyed by climbiners since the 1970s as an ideal spot to climb after work or on sunny winter days.

“Society Turn has been an important part of the local climbing community for several decades,” says Telluride Mountain Club Board Member Tor Anderson. “Hundreds of youth and adults have been introduced to climbing thanks to the area and Access Fund’s ownership.”

In 1995, local climbers and members of Telluride Mountain Club (TMC) reached out to Access Fund when their favorite local rock climbing spot was sold to a private developer who planned to close the area due to liability concerns. At the time, there was no local entity that could hold the property, and Access Fund came forward to take ownership of Society Turn from the developer, with critical support from TMC and Access Fund Regional Coordinator Steve Johnson. Access Fund has held and managed the property ever since.

“There was a real need for Access Fund to protect Society Turn in 1995,” says Steve Johnson. “I’m proud to say that Access Fund’s 23-year legacy of ownership will continue in the local hands of the County.”

In certain circumstances, Access Fund will hold and manage land for critical projects outside the reach of an existing local climbing organization. However, our first priority is to support and empower local organizations and communities to protect their climbing areas. Earlier this year, Access Fund reached out to TMC, who had acted as a long-standing land steward at Society Turn, to consider options for local ownership.

“It was time for a new phase of Society Turn conservation and access,” says Joe Sambataro, Access Director with Access Fund. “We recognize that our resources as an accredited land trust are best applied to protect immediately threatened climbing, not as a long-term land owner.”

TMC worked to establish a partnership with San Miguel County Parks and Open Space, who also owns and provides climbing access to Bilk Creek Climbing Wall and provides ice-climbing access to Bridal Veil Falls via a multi-party license agreement. The county agreed to take ownership of Society Turn and honor existing deed provisions for permanent climbing access. TMC will continue their volunteer stewardship of the area.

“San Miguel County is excited to take on ownership and management of Society Turn,” says Janet Kask, Director of San Miguel County Parks and Open Space. “We see recreational areas like this as an important community and public resource to steward and share for future generations of County residents and visitors alike.”

“The Telluride Mountain Club will continue to steward Society Turn in conjunction with the county,” says TMC President Josh Borof. “San Miguel County will prove itself to be a great local safeguard and steward of the area.”

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