Last month an agreement was reached with conservation organizations, legislations and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association on a bill to restore liability protections for landowners who allow the public recreational access to their land—for activities such as fishing, hiking, or birding.  An amendment to SB1042 (House Amendment #1) was introduced reflecting this agreement.

Conservation groups have been working on this issue for seven years.  We are very grateful to Senator Don Harmon who worked to reach agreement on this bill and Representative Ann Williams who has worked to move the bill through the House.  These legislators and organizations discussed this bill in a recent press release.

“Illinois has some spectacular places to go hiking, camping, kayaking, boating, and bird watching,” said Senator Dan Harmon. “This agreement, which is the result of months of negotiations, should provide protection for the generous landowners who open their properties to the public.” “Private landowners provide a public service to the citizens of Illinois by offering people the use of their land for recreation and conservation for free,” said Representative Ann Williams. “Protecting landowners costs the state nothing and provides more access to nature for more people.” “In 2005, Illinois became the only state in the U.S. that didn’t provide protection for private landowners,” said Lenore Beyer-Clow, Policy Director at Openlands “This bill will reverse the trend of severely restricting or eliminating public access to beautiful open spaces across Illinois.” “Draper’s Bluff in southern Illinois, for example, closed public opportunities for climbing due to the loss of liability protection,” said Susan Donovan, The Nature Conservancy of Illinois. “This bill rectifies such concerns and motivates landowners to extend recreational opportunities in our state that would otherwise be out of the public’s reach.”