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Respecting private property

BlueRibbon Coalition clarifies its position on recreation access and private property rights.

By Clark L. Collins

Recreationists must respect private property! An increase in outdoor recreation activities has resulted in increased problems for land owners adjacent to public land and other undeveloped areas. Recent events point to the importance of the BlueRibbon Coalition clarifying our position regarding recreation access and private property rights.

Recreationists must work cooperatively and respectfully with private land owners. Private lands provide important recreation opportunities even in states with a high percentage of public lands. Recreation access to private land is even more important in states with little or no public lands.

photo: OHV Riders
Clark and Rita Collins

To clarify our position regarding respect for private property the following policy has been approved by our Board at our Spring Board meeting in April. This policy is now an integral part of our organizational policy is posted on our web-site, www.sharetrails.org.

Approved April 12, 2003 BRC Private Land Policy

The BlueRibbon Coalition supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. We encourage landowners to make their lands available for responsible recreation including off-highway vehicles, where possible and where such use is compatible with their use of the land.

We support the reform of state liability statutes to protect landowners from claims by people using their land for recreational purposes even if fees are charged for such use.

Where valid public rights-of-way exist, we support appropriate measures to allow the continuation of reasonable public access in conjunction with respect for the private owner's servient estate. What this means, in a nutshell, is that if recreation access has been due to the generosity of a private land owner, and they choose to revoke that access for what-ever reason, that is their prerogative.

However, if a landowner attempts to block a legally protected access route, as is sometimes the case when someone wants to block access to adjacent public lands, we will aggressively fight for the restoration of that access.

There are irresponsible recreationists in every user group. They can cause private land owners to require advance permission to go on their property or stop allowing public use entirely.

The entire recreation community needs to address the irresponsible use issue and respect the decisions of private landowners who choose not to allow recreation use of their land.

Additional information on this release and/or other BlueRibbon media releases is available at http://www.sharetrails.org/MediaReleases/index.cfm. The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting responsible recreation, equal opportunity and recreation access to all. The BlueRibbon Coalition works to "Preserve our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public," and to promote cooperation among the various user-groups.

April 2003

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