PHOENIX — New legislation recently signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey ensures that landowners and lessees of private or public land can avoid liability for injuries or damages sustained by recreational users for unknown conditions on their property or when the owner or lessee provides warning of a dangerous condition.
The bill, HB 2130, provides that a recreational user accepts the risks created by his or her activities on the property and that the user must exercise reasonable care in those activities. In addition, the bill holds recreational users liable to an owner for any damage to the land, property, livestock or crops that the user may cause while on that land.
A stakeholder group consisting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, Arizona Farm and Ranch Group, members of the Arizona Legislature, executive agency staff, and others worked collaboratively to advance this bill in response to concerns that the increase in recreational activities and a growing number of lawsuits filed by outdoor recreationists created an unfair liability situation for landowners and lessees.
The bill helps mitigate the concerns and ensures continued reasonable access and responsible use of State Trust Lands by authorized sportsmen and other recreational users while fairly distributing accountability and liability such that no landowner, lessee, or taxpayer assumes all costs for defending against lawsuits.
The bill also furthers the joint missions of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD). Encouraging greater responsibility among recreational users on State Trust Land will prevent damage to wildlife habitat, discourage trash dumping, and allow for more efficient management of the roughly 8-million-acre rural land footprint managed by ASLD.
HB 2130 was sponsored by Rep. Gail Griffin (R-District 14) and was formally supported by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. It was signed into law by Gov. Ducey on May 20. The bill becomes effective Sept. 24, 2022.