Access to private airstrips in Michigan, along with other private land suitable for off-airport operations, remains under threat, and AOPA is working with other aviation groups to persuade state lawmakers to change that by shielding property owners from liability.
Legislation clarifying liability for landowners has been introduced in both the state House and Senate.
AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds is coordinating with the Michigan Private Airstrip Owners Association and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to persuade state lawmakers that the bills—similar to legislation already passed in 25 other states—make sense for the public, and for aviation. Similar legislation fell short in Michigan in 2014, but Budds said that the political dynamic has shifted.
“We are very optimistic about achieving these important reforms this year given a variety of new aviation-friendly legislators elected recently,” Budds said. “This clarification of what we believe to be existing law is critically important to growing backcountry aviation and to stopping the decline of private airfields in Michigan.”
Michigan has long protected private landowners that allow public use of their land for recreation, including uses by people with a variety of motorized vehicles. Bills (House Bill 4244 and Senate Bill 179) introduced in Michigan simply clarify those existing laws by including aviation among the specifically protected activities. This will provide a powerful incentive for landowners to allow the use of their land by others, and help preserve and increase aviation access for backcountry areas and private airfields. Budds, like other AOPA regional managers, has testified before lawmakers about the importance of protecting aviation access to private land.