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Bill to allow civil lawsuits for blocking public lands fails

Posted: 3:57 PM, Mar 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-04 17:57:45-05

BOISE, Idaho — Legislation that would have allowed private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against private individuals or entities willfully and knowingly blocking access to public lands has failed.

The Senate Resources and Environment Committee on Monday voted to hold the bill in committee, killing it.

Backers of the legislation say illegally blocking access to public lands used by hunters, anglers and other recreationists is a problem in Idaho because there's rarely any prosecution and possible fines are too small to create an incentive to follow the law.

Those opposed to the measure say landowners could face perpetual civil lawsuits.

On a related front, the Legislature last year drastically overhauled the state's trespass laws by making more harsh penalties for criminal and civil trespassing on private land while relaxing requirements for landowners to post their property.