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House Bill 335 — Eminent domain for recreational trails

House Bill 335 — Eminent domain for recreational trails

Lindsay Atkinson
January 23, 2020

Bill description: HB 335 would allow government to use eminent domain to take land for recreational trails.

Rating: -1

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? 

Article 1, Section 14 of the Idaho Constitution grants the government the right to use eminent domain to acquire land for public use. It says that eminent domain may be used to acquire land only if it is “necessary to the complete development of the material resources of the state, or the preservation of the health of its inhabitants.” 

State law further establishes what is a public use, including acquiring land for constructing public buildings, roads, telephone lines, pipes, and other purposes supplemental to providing basic government services.

State law also specifically lists what eminent domain may not be used for. One of the restrictions is that it may not be used to acquire land for “trails, paths, greenways or other ways for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use, unless adjacent to a highway, road or street.”

HB 335 would remove the current restriction on using eminent domain for recreational trails, thus permitting all levels of government to take private property for that purpose. By doing so, HB 335 would infringe on private property rights for trails, which falls outside of the vital purposes of eminent domain listed elsewhere in state law and in the Idaho Constitution. 


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