Public and private landowners and hydroelectric project owners in lawful control of lands or water areas are not liable for unintentional injuries sustained by members of the public who use them with the permission of the owner for outdoor recreation.
This exemption does not apply to injuries sustained by users by reason of a known dangerous artificial latent condition for which warnings signs have not been conspicuously posted. Known dangerous artificial latent conditions do not include releasing water or flows and making waterways or channels available for kayaking, canoeing, or rafting purposes pursuant to a hydroelectric license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The landowner's exemption from liability for injuries sustained by the public from releasing water or flows and making waterways or channels available for recreation pursuant to a hydroelectric license issued by FERC is expanded to include boating, swimming, and fishing.
The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: Several hydropower facilities in my district provide amazing places for recreation. Dangers do exist so we want to tighten language to make sure the owners of these properties aren't hurt by allowing access. Our dams are licensed by FERC and we have to follow their regulations, including by providing access to recreation, which includes boat launches, swimming areas, campgrounds, and more. Water level flows can change suddenly. This language clarifies that natural fluctuations which occur during the operation of dams within licensed parameters do not create known dangerous artificial latent conditions. Federal license requirements define the normal operating range, which should also define safe operating levels; we aren't asking for liability protection if flow levels are abnormal.
CON: The recreational immunity statute is the most expansive immunity statute on the books. It has a well-designed good purpose to encourage private landowners to offer land for recreation. The five prongs of the known dangerous artificial latent condition test provide substantial protection and if it fails all the landowner has to do is post a sign. The threat of liability encourages public safety.