Senate Bill 1020 — Landowners, recreation

Senate Bill 1020 — Landowners, recreation

by
Parrish Miller
January 25, 2021

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1020 modifies the existing law that limits the liability of landowners who allow members of the public to use their property. It does so by adding items to the definition of both “land” and “owner.”

Rating: +1

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. 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 U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

Senate Bill 1020 amends Section 36-1604, Idaho Code, which limits the liability of landowners when they make land "available to the public without charge for recreational purposes." 

This bill expands the definition of "land" by adding "parks," "campgrounds," "reservoirs," hydroelectric dams," "groundwater recharge sites," "canals," "laterals," "ditches," and "drains." The bill expands the definition of "owner" by adding the possessor of a "right-of-way or easement," a "licensee," "operator," "permit holder," and a person "with a right or duty to maintain" the land. 

The bill expands the definition of "recreational purposes" by adding the following phrase to the existing non-exhaustive list of examples: "the pursuit of personal enjoyment or pleasure on land when done without charge by the owner of the land." The bill also adds "shooting," "trapping," and operating "off-highway vehicles" to that non-exhaustive list. 

Finally, the bill clarifies that "traveling across or being upon the land incidental to or ancillary to" recreational purposes also falls under the definition of "recreational purposes."

Taken together, these amendments expand upon and clarify the purpose of the statute in a manner consistent with its purpose — encouraging owners of land to make that land available to the public for recreation by limiting the owner's liability toward those engaging in recreation. This limit protects the property rights of property owners and encourages recreational activity in Idaho. 

(+1)

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