PALTA sent this letter to House representatives on December 7, 2015
On behalf of the 75 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, I write to request your support of HB 544. The Association also asks you to oppose amendments that would diminish the bill’s protections for public-spirited landowners; at this writing this means voting “no” to all amendments including the amendments offered by Representatives Longetti, Gibbons and Neuman.
HB 544 would amend the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act to limit the liability for personal injury or property damage of landowners who generously open their lands to public use for hunting, bird watching, hiking and other forms of recreation. It ensures they are not punished for allowing the public on their land at no charge.
The Association’s member organizations work with landowners to conserve their land and to provide safe and responsible recreational opportunities to the public. Landowner fear of liability is often an obstacle to establishing trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities. The obstacle, to the detriment of the public, is frequently insurmountable. By providing assurance to landowners that their public-minded decisions to provide access won’t be punished with undue liability, House Bill 544 will expand recreational opportunities for the public.
Landowners and the public deserve the protections and recreational opportunities that this bill promotes. Both of their interests would benefit from the passage of this bill.
On behalf of the 75 member organizations of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the 120,000 Pennsylvanians they count as members, thank you for your consideration.