A bill that would protect private airstrip owners who allow recreational use by the public has advanced to the Oregon Senate and awaits final legislative approval. The state House of Representatives unanimously approved the legislation sponsored by Rep. John Huffman in April, and the Senate Judiciary Committee also gave unanimous approval on May 21.
AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane has joined Recreational Aviation Foundation liaison Phil Olson (a private airstrip owner himself) and Oregon Pilots Association President Mary Rosenblum in backing the legislation as it advanced.
Oregon, like many states, already limits the liability of private landowners who make their property available for public use. “However in Oregon, private use airfield owners are not certain that the recreational use statute pertains to them, and as a result, many deny aviation access to their private airfields,” Ulane noted in a May 19 letter to Sen. Floyd Prozanski, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The bill under consideration, while not technically a “recreational-use statute” amendment as other states have adopted, has the same effect. The bill stipulates that private landowners are not liable for injury or property damage that results from allowing aircraft to operate, unless the owner intentionally causes injury, death, or property damage.
AOPA has worked across the country to support similar laws that remove a strong disincentive for private landowners who would otherwise welcome aviation, and Oregon stands to join more than two dozen other states where such protections have been clarified or established.
Ulane encouraged AOPA members in Oregon to contact their state senators and voice support for the legislation.