New law frees landowners from fear of lawsuits
OAK PARK – For years, Illinois landowners were able to let people onto their land, free of charge, to enjoy rivers, lakes, forest, cliffs, canyons and other natural wonders. A 2005 court decision changed all that. It said that you could be held legally responsible for anyone on your land. Prompted by the possibility of lawsuits, the owners of many popular outdoor areas closed up shop.
All that is set to change now, due to a new law that reverses the 2005 decision and frees landowners from fear of lawsuits. Natural sites throughout the state will reopen for climbers, kayakers, bird watchers, hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts.
“The sad fact is that both the state and federal government have been forced to cut back conservation spending,” said State Senator Don Harmon, the Oak Park Democrat who sponsored the law. “It’s more important than ever to allow generous landowners and non-profit groups to provide the public access to our state’s beautiful natural spaces.”