WIUM Tristates Public Radio

IL Law to Open More Private Land for Public Recreation

Sep 2, 2013

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law which could pave the way to open more private land for public recreational use.

Several years ago an Illinois Supreme Court ruling stripped away the liability protections for private landowners who opened their land for public recreation.

The general assembly restored those protections for hunting, but until now other uses like biking and hiking were not protected.

Gov. Quinn and supporters of the Private Recreation Liability Law at the signing ceremony.
Credit Harvey S. Tillis - openlands.org

Dan Yoder is the Chair of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department at Western Illinois University.

He said that nature trails are quite popular now and the law's most immediate effect may be making such trails easier to build.

Yoder explained that although most of trail may be on public lands, often times it must cross small sections of private land.

"The private landowner may indeed want to allow access but they are hesitant to do so because they think they may be putting themselves at risk," Yoder said.

He said it may take several years for the effects of the law to be seen.

Yoder said that though the bill may affect a relatively small amount of land, only one percent of the state is open for public use so any increase in land open for public recreation is positive.