New Colorado Law Will Protect Trail Volunteers

By Jerry Abboud

A bill introduced at the behest of the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition was signed into law April 6, by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Sponsored by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Jeni Arndt (D-Fort Collins), SB17-100 amends the Colorado Recreational Trails System Act of 1971.

The bill, which enjoyed large margins of bipartisan support in both houses of the General Assembly, includes legal protections for volunteers and nonprofits who perform land stewardship on public lands, such as USFS and BLM controlled areas. It also provides limited immunity from civil liability for any act or omission that results in damage or injury if a volunteer is acting within the scope of his duties performed under a state grant, such as the OHV grant program. This immunity extends to the operation of non-motorized vehicles for trail maintenance and construction.

Also, the bill provides limited immunity to nonprofit organizations, and lowers insurance premiums. All forms of trails construction can again be funded because the requirement for completed operations insurance for nonprofits has been removed by this bill.

OHV and other non-motorized clubs and volunteer groups have been hampered by high costs and often unobtainable liability insurance needed to fulfill the obligations of state grants for trail construction and maintenance.

“This amendment to Colorado law, in concert with existing federal law, will go a long way toward boosting trail activities statewide,” said COHVCO President Jerry Abboud.

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