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Action Alert- Restoring Landowner Protections!


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This is one of, if not THE most important issue facing outdoors enthusiasts in IL at the present time.

It was discussed heavily at Conservation Congress, and it is imperative that we make certain our voices are heard as we are faced with an opportunity to fix something that is clearly broken.

I will draft a resolution of support on behalf of the ISA as a stakeholder group, but your personal letters and calls are extremely important.

 

Please read the following to get started:

 

Under current law, Illinois landowners are protected from liability for hunting and snowmobiling accidents on their property, but they are not provided with liability protections for other recreation and conservation activities.

 

This means that private landowners are less likely to allow access to their land for habitat restoration efforts, water testing efforts and water access. This could seriously limit the work of Prairie Rivers Network and partners.

 

Illinois is the only state in the nation that doesn't protect its landowners from liability for public access to recreation, education and conservation activities on private land.

 

 

ACTION alert!

INCREASE LAND AVAILABILE FOR RECREATION BY

RESTORING LIABILITY PROTECTION

(April 23, 2010)

Openlands needs your help to restore a major incentive for landowners

to grant public access to beautiful areas for recreation, conservation and education

For more than 40 years, Illinois protected landowners against liability to encourage them to open more land to the public for recreation, conservation and education. The Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act reassured landowners, land trusts, companies and public agencies so that they allowed people onto their property to hike, bike, fish, watch birds, help with restoration efforts, hold nature classes, and participate in other activities. Since only 3.6% of our natural areas are held in public trust, the law opened up tremendous opportunities for natural resource protection and recreation throughout Illinois.

 

In 2005, the law was changed to cover only landowners who make their land available for hunting and recreational shooting. It eliminated protection to landowners who opened their property to the public for all other activities. Illinois became the only state in the nation that does not offer this protection. As a result, landowners across the State may severely restrict or eliminate access to their property for public outdoor recreational, conservation, and educational use. We are already seeing it happen - Draper's Bluff in Southern Illinois closed its doors to the public after offering climbers years of access to a breathtaking natural area.

We need to act NOW to restore these crucial protections for recreation and conservation access.

Ask your state senators and representatives to support HB6072.

We can reinstate these essential protections by asking our legislators to pass HB6072. Please call or write your State Senator and Representative and let him or her know that you support restoring broad liability protection for landowners who open their land to the public to increase the amount of open space for recreation, conservation, and education activities. This is a way for the State of Illinois to provide more land for recreation without costing the State a penny! To find your legislator go to:

 

http://www.elections...hByAddress.aspx

 

When you contact your legislator, you may wish to emphasize the following:

• Instances when you have gained access to private property for a specific recreation activity such as biking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, nature walks, etc.

• Trails that you and others in your organization use or trails you are developing to which access could be severed or limited because private landowners fear liability.

• Examples of landowners who are willing to open their land for the public to use for recreation and conservation purposes.

For more information please contact: Openlands Policy Coordinator, Stacy Meyers-Glen at (312)-863-6265, SMeyers-Glen@openlands.org.

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  • 1 month later...

I am glad to see access as a topic because it is another way to improve our fishing opportunities. I reazlize that it is more of a legal challenge unlike the physical jobs of restoring and planting that go with conservation. Never the less it is a worthy challenge.

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It's curious why the original protection was changed in 2005.What was the rational justifying the change? Who pushed for the change in order to benefit? The only thing that comes to mind is the NRA and related hunting organizations seeking to maintain access for their exclusive use and keeping fishermen,hikers,bird watchers et al.from getting in the way of the hunt.The only thing I'd like to see restricted are atvs.That goes for pubic lands as well.

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It's curious why the original protection was changed in 2005.What was the rational justifying the change? Who pushed for the change in order to benefit? The only thing that comes to mind is the NRA and related hunting organizations seeking to maintain access for their exclusive use and keeping fishermen,hikers,bird watchers et al.from getting in the way of the hunt.The only thing I'd like to see restricted are atvs.That goes for pubic lands as well.

 

It's a little more complicated than that, Ron.

I stood up at Conservation Congress and asked that very question- "What facilitated the change, and why?" Got some nervous explanations privately later on, but not much more.

Oh, and the Senator sitting next to me that voted on it and tried to tell me it was everything but hunting that is now protected. That was comical.

As the Act was written, if the land was not available to the public....protections didn't exist.

A great case study on this can be found here:

http://www.lexisone....g=y&l1loc=FCLOW

 

Some I have spoken to are telling me that the ITLA would benefit from the creation of more litigation opportunities by removing most all activities. This didn't pan out for the lawyers after all, so I'm told.

 

But don't take my word for it.

It's simply hearsay coming from me.

I'm still in the process of separating the wheat from the chaff, but when you really think about it..it's a great story on the process of law and conservation/recreation/public access, but in the end we just want to see the protections restored.

 

Doesn't make sense to beat up on those that changed it, they could very well be an ally on another issue in the future.

We can never be too careful in the business of conservation.

Friends and foes change their stripes at the drop of a hat.

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