On October 24, 2018, Governor Wolf signed Act 98 into law. Act 98 amends the Pennsylvania Recreation Use of Land and Water Act (RULWA) to better protect from liability those who open their properties to the public for recreation without charge. Improvements to the law include:
- Explicitly listing paths, paved and unpaved trails, fishing and boating structures, hunting blinds, parking, and other infrastructure associated with outdoor recreation as areas to which the liability protections of RULWA apply.
- Clarifying the law to include within the meaning of recreation “exercise, sport, education, recreation, relaxation or pleasure.”
- Enabling landowners to collect certain contributions—voluntary ones, in-kind (e.g., receiving a portion of deer meat hunted on the property), and those used exclusively to cover property taxes or liability insurance)—without losing liability protections.
The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association worked for a dozen years to improve liability protections for land trusts, trail groups, local governments, and private landowners that open their land to the public. The Association testified before committees of the General Assembly multiple times, wrote countless letters, and made numerous legislative visits after first thoroughly analyzing the state’s liability protections and identifying deficiencies in 2006.
The Association will be updating its guide Pennsylvania’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act: Statutory Protection for Property Owners Who Open Their Land to the Public and other guidance in the Managing Liability section of ConservationTools.org to reflect this new development in the law.