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Action Alert: Re-Open Hawaii Climbing

Hawaii climbers need your help to re-open climbing access on state lands!

Liability concerns have driven the State of Hawaii to shut down numerous hikes and climbing areas in the past year and a half, but we have a chance to reverse these closures with your help. The climbing community and other sports enthusiasts collaborated with legislators and the Hawaii Attorney General’s office to develop a new bill, Senate Bill 1007 (HD1), currently up for consideration by Hawaii’s 2014 legislature. This new bill will resolve state liability concerns, open several Oahu climbing sites, and prevent further closures of public lands. The Attorney General’s office stated that this legislation must pass if they are to reopen closed areas and prevent additional closures.

Hawaii climbers need your help pass this legislation. Please take the simple steps below to submit testimony on behalf of this new bill. If you are a Hawaii resident, please consider attending the hearing in Oahu on Thursday January 30th, at 2:00 p.m. in room #325 inside the Capitol.

  1. Visit the Hawaii State Legislature website.
  2. Register and Sign In using the links in the upper right corner of the page.
  3. Submit Testimony on Bill SB1007 (HD1) Proposed
  4. Copy and paste the text of the letter below or craft your own.
  5. In addition to the above, take just a few seconds to sign a change.org petition.

The deadline for testimony is Thursday 1/30/2014, so please submit your comments as soon as possible.

Draft Letter - Copy and Paste - Update highlighted section

I, the undersigned resident of Hawaii and/or possible visitor to Hawaii very strongly support the passage of SB 1007 (HD1) and any provisions that will make this legislation permanent.

I support this measure because I cherish our right to freely enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in Hawaii’s mountains including hiking, biking, trail running, climbing, paragliding and other activities. I am concerned about the State’s current absence of liability protection, which has led to ongoing closures of climbing areas, hiking trails, and other scenic sites due to the State’s legitimate fear of lawsuits. I strongly believe that public lands need to remain open to the public.

In comparison to other western states, Hawaii’s recreational liability statutes are sorely lacking. I do not want to see access to mountain sports across the Hawaiian Islands denied or restricted due to a group of 4,000 trial attorneys. I strongly disagree with previous testimony against liability reform in Hawaii that suggests that the status quo is in the best interest of the public, or that status quo will keep us safer by holding the State liable for accidents (such as the Brem case in 2012). I am a responsible citizen who recognizes the assumed risks in engaging in recreational activities on State lands. I believe that individuals who choose to go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, or who choose to engage in any other recreational use of public lands, should do so at their own risk.

Without the passage of this bill, the State of Hawaii is left with very little protection from litigation resulting from injuries that occur on State lands. I believe the lack of liability protection is untenable, especially given the ever-growing popularity of mountain recreation to residents in Hawaii and visitors, comprising our tourist economy.

This bill is an agreeable compromise. It notably does not provide the State with absolute immunity, but does require that those engaging in hazardous recreational activities accept the risks associated with their actions. This bill will effectively balance State responsibilities (to maintain public trail systems and to warn of possible hazards) with individual responsibilities. Thus, I fully endorse this essential legislation provided in SB 1007 (HD1) and urge the Hawaii State Legislature to pass it into law.

Date: 1/28/2014