May 18, 2017

Washington: Bill to Increase Access to Private Lands Signed Into Law

On May 8, Washington House Bill 1464, a bill that would encourage private landowners to allow increased access to their lands for hunting and angling, was signed into law by Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

The bill was initially passed in the House by a vote of 89-7 on February 27, before a slightly amended version passed unanimously in the Senate on April 11. The House voted unanimously to pass the bill with the Senate amendments on April 17.

HB 1464, which was sponsored by Washington Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Brian Blake would, “Provide that payments to a landowner from state, local, or nonprofit organizations established under cooperative public access agreements with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are not considered ‘fees’ for the purpose of the outdoor recreation immunity provision (for landowners) as long as the landowner does not charge for access to the land subject to the cooperative agreement.”

By providing immunity against unintentional injuries occurring on private property, private landowners in Washington will be incentivized to enter into cooperative agreements with the WDFW to allow increased hunting and angling access to their lands. People who no longer hunt or fish have consistently cited lack of access to places to hunt and fish among the primary reasons for giving up the sport, necessitating the need to explore new options for increasing access to both public and private lands.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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