Kansas bill would be a disaster for present and future trails- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Kansas bill would be a disaster for present and future trails

    If you live in Kansas or have any friends who live there, we need
    your help -- urgently, and now.

    The Kansas Legislature is considering a bill that would be a disaster
    for new and existing trails in that state.

    The bill, HB 2583, has been introduced and will be presented Tuesday,
    Feb. 10, during the House Environmental Committee Meeting. This bill
    puts anyone involved in volunteer trails (singletrack, rail/trail or
    paved) advocacy at serious risk to liability based on the whim of a
    landowner whose property borders any public land. This means that a
    disgruntled landowner would be able to litigate against any volunteer
    organization (and any officials or officers) involved with any type
    of trail system. Hiking, equestrian and mountain biking advocacy
    organizations will all be exposed to arbitrary liability it this bill
    passes.

    And if it passes The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks may no
    longer allow volunteer organizations to design, build or maintain
    trails on State lands or parks. Should this bill be passed,
    volunteer organizations associated with trails in the state of Kansas
    will be subject to lawsuits from individuals. In other words, no
    current trail system in Kansas could be maintained without exposure
    to lawsuits. More than likely, advocacy organizations would not be
    allowed to add any additional singletrack trails on State Parks
    lands. Land managers would more than likely lose their volunteer
    resources for maintaining existing trails and for designing and
    building future trails.

    So please contact any friends you have in Kansas and let's send a
    strong statement to the Legislature.

    Mark Flint
    Executive Director
    MTBAccess

  2. #2

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    What does HB 2583 actually say? What is its stated intent (what "problem" does it attempt to address), who's pushing it, and why?

  3. #3
    JmZ
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    Google is my friend

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    What does HB 2583 actually say? What is its stated intent (what "problem" does it attempt to address), who's pushing it, and why?
    Begin Legalese. I don't know the background of the info, but here for your (easy) perusal.

    Session of 2004
    HOUSE BILL No. 2583
    By Committee on Environment
    1-23
    AN ACT concerning certain recreational trails; relating to remedies for
    failure to comply with law; amending K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 58-3215 and
    repealing the existing section.
    Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
    Section 1. K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 58-3215 is hereby amended to read as
    follows: 58-3215. A city or county may institute procedures for recourse
    against the responsible party pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 1247 (1983) and 49
    C.F.R. 1152.29 (1986) upon the failure of the responsible party to comply
    with the provisions of this act.
    (Strike through of underlined portions)
    If the responsible party fails to comply
    with the provisions of this act, any adjacent property owner, city or
    county aggrieved by the noncompliance may bring an action in the district
    court to enforce the provisions of this act. Upon a finding that the re-sponsible
    party has failed to comply with the provisions of this act, the
    court may enter any one or more of the following orders:
    (a) An order requiring the responsible party to comply with the pro-visions
    of this act;
    (b) an order requiring the responsible party to pay a civil penalty to
    the aggrieved party in an amount not exceeding $100 for each day of
    noncompliance;
    (c) an order imposing personal liability for the noncompliance on the
    members, stockholders and directors and officers of the responsible party;
    (d) an order requiring the responsible party to pay reasonable attor-ney
    fees and costs of the aggrieved party; or
    (e) an order vacating, annulling or suspending the responsible party?s
    corporate charter, if a corporation created by or under the laws of this
    state, or revoking or suspending the certificate of authority to do business
    in this state, if a foreign corporation.
    Sec. 2. K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 58-3215 is hereby repealed.
    Sec. 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its
    publication in the statute book.

    JmZ
    If anyone wants to find this themselves Google search "HB 2583" and Kansas
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  4. #4

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    Thanks, but I still don't understand how this translates into exposing advocacy organizations to "arbitrary liability".

    The text begins: "AN ACT concerning certain recreational trails; relating to remedies for failure to comply with law (emphasis added)". It appears that 2583 is intended to address illegal/unsanctioned activity (unsanctioned trailwork on private property, for example). If so, then legal/legit advocacy activities should not be threatened.

    I'm not saying I disagree that this law threatens advocacy; it probably does. However, so far all I see are assertions unsupported by concrete arguments.

  5. #5
    JmZ
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    Change I could read into it was..

    Emphasis added below to show why I think what I do. Again, live no where near Kansas, just an outsider trying to make sense of another state's political sausage.

    It looks like where a City or County had the legal right before to fine a 'responsible party' that right has been expanded to neighbors and nearby property owners. The adjacent, (thing I noted is it didn't say just property owner, but adjacent property owners) gets a new right to litagate against his/her neighbor.

    The adjacent property owner can then fine, get other people to pay court costs, and revoke corporte charter. If the Mountain Bike orgs are set up as corps....A consparicy theory supporter could look at this as targeting a Mountain Bike Advocacy group. It might turn out that it could do what is feared, or not. I don't know. Depends on the personalities involved most likely (in the legistlature, and when implemented too).

    Would a spurrious lawsuit put your local MTB advocacy group out of business? I think that's what is feared most.

    [ / Paranoia, Fear, & Conspiracy }
    JmZ

    -----
    Begin Selected text
    -----

    Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
    Section 1. K.S.A. 2003 Supp. 58-3215 is hereby amended to read as
    follows: 58-3215. A city or county may institute procedures for recourse
    against the responsible party pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 1247 (1983) and 49
    C.F.R. 1152.29 (1986) upon the failure of the responsible party to comply
    with the provisions of this act.
    (Strike through of bolded portions)
    If the responsible party fails to comply
    with the provisions of this act, any adjacent property owner, city or
    county aggrieved by the noncompliance may bring an action in the district
    court to enforce the provisions of this act. Upon a finding that the re-sponsible
    party has failed to comply with the provisions of this act, the
    court may enter any one or more of the following orders:
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  6. #6

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    MTBAccess Board Members Cort Anderson and Ken Miner have been reviewing the bill and the laws it relates to/modifies. The short version of how this came to be is that there are some strong anti-Rails to Trails folks in Kansas, and they drafted this to give people who live along proposed Rails to Trails routes the ability to kill the proposals by suing everybody involved. Unfortunately the way it is written extends it to any trail project anywere.

    Cort and Ken are on the agenda to speak to the committee when it comes up for hearing Tuesday.

    --mark

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Flint
    MTBAccess Board Members Cort Anderson and Ken Miner have been reviewing the bill and the laws it relates to/modifies. The short version of how this came to be is that there are some strong anti-Rails to Trails folks in Kansas, and they drafted this to give people who live along proposed Rails to Trails routes the ability to kill the proposals by suing everybody involved. Unfortunately the way it is written extends it to any trail project anywere.

    Cort and Ken are on the agenda to speak to the committee when it comes up for hearing Tuesday.

    --mark
    Thanks. I hope your voice is heard, and that the law isn't just railroaded through (no pun intended). I don't know Ken personally, but I've always been impressed by his contributions to this forum (even his flames are well-thought out and on-target!). If his real-life advocacy skills are at the same level, you've got yourself a regular WMD on your side!

  8. #8
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    Thanks....

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewdane
    Thanks. I hope your voice is heard, and that the law isn't just railroaded through (no pun intended). I don't know Ken personally, but I've always been impressed by his contributions to this forum (even his flames are well-thought out and on-target!). If his real-life advocacy skills are at the same level, you've got yourself a regular WMD on your side!
    Thank you, I think.

    The short version of why HB 2583 will limit trail opportunities in Kansas is that it will allow property owners with land adjacent to <b> Recreational Trails </b> to file lawsuits against not for profit organizations currently assisting land managers to design, develop and maintain Rail Trails for non-compliance with the standards established for a trail system. So for example, should the ceiling height of the trail corridor fall even 1 inch below the established tolerance anywhere on a trail, the land owner <i>could</i>, according to the way this bill is written, sue a volunteer organization for not complying with the standards of the trail. Who decides if the trail isn't in compliance in order to initiate legal action? The land owner who initiates the legal action. This would force volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to pay for legal representation in order to defend themselves from these lawsuits.

    According to the legal department of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, this bill would effectively eliminate utilizing volunteer labor and the organizations providing volunteer labor from helping design, develop, construct and maintain trails located on KDWP lands (all state parks, for example). The reason for what seems like an overreaction to the bill by the KDWP is that their lawyers feel that if anyone challenged the current, legal definition of "recreational trails" as defined by KS laws (currently just Rail/Trail), that all trail systems would fall under this definition: singletrack, paved, double-track, rail/trail, jeep roads.

    The KDWP opposes this bill. In addition, the following organizations are a few that are testifying against this bill:

    - Mountain Bike Access
    - Kansas Trails Council
    - IMBA (me)
    - Audubon of Kansas
    - Friends of the Kaw
    - Kansas Singletrack Society
    - Kansas Division of Wildlife and Parks
    - Earth Riders Trails Association


    As Mark indicated, Cort and I are testifying against this bill before the Kansas House Committe on the Environment along with representatives of the other organizations listed above.

    I guess if you've read this far, you won't mind if I plug the Midwest Singletrack Summit. Proceeds from the Summit benefit Earth Riders Trails Association (ERTA). ERTA was established to gain access to land on which to incorporate singletrack trails AND to fight for continued trail access throughout the Midwestern United States.

    Please consider attending the Summit and supporting ERTA, to help us continue to represent singletrack trails. www.earthriders.org


    Ken Miner
    Board Member - Mountain Bike Access
    KS State Representative - IMBA
    Board Member - ERTA

    P.S. Sorry about the lack of spell check. I'm fairly busy today preparing my testimony, but a wanted to drop a reply.

  9. #9
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    Kansas Trails Update

    All,

    The purpose of this email is to follow up on Kansas House Bill 2583. As you should be aware, this bill went before the House Committee on Environment yesterday.

    The following is a brief follow up from Michael Goodwin, President of the Kansas Trails Council:

    Hi Everyone,
    *
    The hearing on House Bill 2583 was well attended yesterday with about 20 people having to stand.* There were 7 people testifying in favor of the Bill and 13 of us testifying in opposition to the Bill.
    *
    To summarize, it seemed to go well but the bill will not go away easily.* Many Committee members seemed to be struggling with the punitive effect the bill would have on our volunteer members.* Other members seemed equally concerned about the aggrieved*adjacent landowners.* There were several suggestions (even from one of the proponents of the Bill) to modify the language by removing the reference to "members" as potential litigants.* Amy Thornton from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (who attended our January KTC meeting) also appeared in opposition to the Bill.
    *
    The following organizations testified in opposition to the Bill:** Kansas Natural Resources Council, Kansas Horseman's Council, Kansas Sierra Club, Kansas League of Municipalities, Kansas Wildlife (Federation?), Kanza Rail Trail, Audubon of Kansas.* Proponents of the bill included the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Farm Bureau and a couple of State Senators.
    *
    Several of us who attended the hearing debriefed afterwards and agreed to start coordinating our efforts regarding the Bill and begin collaborating on ways in which we can improve the State's approach to trail development.
    *
    Stay tuned.
    *
    Mike


    In addition, the attached is a transcript of my testimony in front of the Committee:

    International Mountain Bicycling Association
    Earth Riders Trails Association

    February 10, 2004

    Kansas House Committee on Environment Re: House Bill 2583

    Chairperson Freeborn and Committee Members:

    My name is Ken Miner and I am representing the International Mountain Bicycling Association, or what we call IMBA, a not for profit organization established to create, enhance and preserve mountain biking opportunities worldwide. IMBA members and affiliate clubs have performed close to 1,000,000 volunteer trail work hours annually and created more than 5,000 miles of singletrack trails in the United States alone.

    A little closer to home, I am also representing Earth Riders Trails Association or ERTA. ERTA was incorporated in 2002 in order to work with land managers to develop multiuse trail opportunities throughout the Midwestern United States.

    Through IMBA and ERTA, Iíve worked in partnership with Missouri Division of State Parks, Jackson County, MO, Clay County, MO, Kansas City, MO, Kansas Division of Wildlife and Parks, the Army Corp. of Engineers, Johnson County, KS, Comanche County, KS, the cities of DeSoto and Lawrence KS to develop trails that benefit the citizens and communities of the respective regions in which the trail systems are located.

    As a former business owner, and the current Director of Sales for an International Corporation, I appreciate the State of Kansasí current cashflow shortages. I also understand and appreciate the value of mentoring and modeling from a successful template to achieve a desired goal. After all, the costs and time associated with reinventing a wheel are expensive and inefficient compared to simply using an existing design that meets or exceeds your expectations.

    The State of Kansas has an opportunity to create a system of trails that will ensure that Kansas is a travel destination and not just a place to drive through to get to Colorado. The State of Kansas has an opportunity, by utilizing volunteer labor resources, to develop an eco-tourism base that will help drive the economy with little or no impact on current budgets.

    The beauty of this opportunity is that we have no further to look than our neighbors to the East for our model. Our template. Our mentor. The State of Missouri has embraced their Rails to Trails system. By working with volunteer organizations to gain funding and labor resources, the Missouri Division of State Parks has created a trail system that has revitalized dead or dying towns by bringing in tourist dollars to areas that were either sleepy railroad towns or once thriving, but now dwindling; agriculture based towns. Missouri embraces volunteer trail work and trails partnerships to maximize its tourism potential.

    In these difficult economic times, when state budgets are being cut to the bone, eliminating volunteer labor as a revenue source would add yet another hurdle for land managers at every level within the state to overcome in order for them to tend to the public lands with which they are charged with protecting and preserving.

    Trail volunteers are a source of revenue for land managers. The cost per linear foot to add a primitive, singletrack trail is $2-3, or $10,560 to $15,840 per mile. In other words, an 18-mile hiking and biking trail system like the one located at Perry Lake State Park is worth $190,080 to the State. In addition, based on a scale of $.75 per linear foot, volunteers on this one trail system contribute over $75,000.00 annually to perform routine trail maintenance. This trail was built and is currently maintained with volunteer labor at no cost to the state.

    Every time I open the newspaper, I read about the hard economic times that have befallen the State. Will increasing the amount of arbitrary litigation that 2583 brings help ease the Stateís budget woes? Will allowing private landowners to sue state volunteers and volunteer organizations promote Kansas as a travel destination and increase the Stateís revenue through tourism dollars? We need look no further than to Missouri to find a successful and profitable model of a Rail to Trail system that is thriving, yet weíre considering eliminating even the possibility of realizing a similar trail in Kansas with the introduction of 2583.

    House Bill 2583 will add a legal burden to the State with the likelihood of increased litigation by private land-owners against State sanctioned volunteers. House Bill 2583 will eliminate a source of free labor for the State. 2583 will ensure that Kansas is only a place to drive through on our way to Colorado or Missouri. Large, out of state energy companies with gas stations that dot the interstates will benefit from House Bill 2583, but our local communities and towns will not.

    For these reasons, we respectfully request that you oppose House Bill 2583.


    As Mike indicated, our testimony was well received and we made some headway. However, we feel that this bill in some form, will make its way to the House floor. We'll follow the progress of this bill, and will keep everyone appraised of its status.

    When the time comes, we're definitely going to need your help, support and involvement to ensure that this bill is contested when it is before the full House.

    Thank you very much for your support and your efforts leading up to the Committee meeting. Your emails were received and noted by the Committee and specifically by the Committee Chair, Representative Freeborn. One suggestion I'll make for future consideration: When you send your letters supporting bicycling, please indicated clearly that you're discussing "bicycles". The term "mountain bike" offered a fair bit of confusion, because most of the Committee members have never been introduced to mountain biking (they thought we were talking about motorized vehicles). We're changing their perception of "mountain biking", but it will take some time (it is the government, after all).

    Thanks again for all your support and efforts. Thank you to the experts from out of state that took your time to provide us (me, especially) with insight and advice on Recreational Trails.

    A HUGE thanks to both Mountain Bike Access and the International Mountain Bicycling Association for their support and efforts! Mark Flint, President of MTBAccess and Jenn Dice, Government Affairs Director of IMBA provided us (again, me especially) with extremely valuable insight, research and information to help us testify against this bill. Please join Mountain Bike Access (http://www.mtbaccess.com/) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (http://www.imba.com/). Your membership ensures that these organizations will continue to be able to fight for trail access and promote trail education.

    Now, what I really liked was the fact that some many diverse organizations joined together to oppose HB 2583. Collectively, I feel we were able to change the opinions of several committee members and as a result, the bill that will go before the House should be altered considerably from the original.

    Thanks again for your support and efforts. Hopefully I'll see you on the trails and not in Topeka.

    A special thanks to Lisa Cox, Toby Wilcoxson and Brian Robinson for attending the Committee meeting and supporting us during our testimony.

    Sincerely,



    Ken Miner

  10. #10

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    Excellent! Keep on making sausage!

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