April 11, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
An AOPA-backed bill to provide liability protection to owners of private airstrips in Oregon was scheduled for a legislative committee hearing April 12. AOPA encourages members to weigh in with lawmakers and urge their support.
The Oregon House Transportation and Economic Development Committee was scheduled to take testimony on House Bill 2016, introduced in February to add recreational aviation to outdoor recreational uses of private property for which landowners are provided liability protection. AOPA estimates that the bill could open access to more than 300 private Oregon airstrips. Several states have recently passed so-called recreational-use statutes, and AOPA is working for passage of similar measures in other states.
In Oregon, David Ulane, AOPA’s Northwest Mountain regional manager, has worked closely on the bill with Phil Olson, an AOPA member and private airstrip owner; and with Oregon Pilots Association President Dennis Smith, state liaison to the Recreational Aviation Foundation.
On Feb. 19, AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro and Ulane met with Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, and lead sponsors Rep. Vicki Berger (R-District 20) and Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-District 16) to urge support.
Ulane also encouraged committee support for the measure on behalf of AOPA’s 6,000 members in Oregon in a letter to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Tobias Read (D-District 27).
“If Oregon’s recreational-use statue is amended through this legislation to clearly state that aviation is included in the list of recreational activities, private-use airfield owners are more likely to allow the aviation community to access to their property,” he wrote in the April 8 letter. “Such access facilitates a broad range of activities such as camping, hiking, and other outdoor recreation, which stimulates economic activity at no cost to the state.”
Ulane urged AOPA members to express support for the bill to committee members, to follow the bill as it moves through the legislative process, and to monitor the @AOPANorthwest Twitter feed and the Northwest/Mountain advocacy page for updates and calls for support.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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