Strengthening Liability Protections for Texas Landowners Who Allow Climbing

Access Fund testified before the Texas State Legislature earlier this month to advocate for a bill that would strengthen the state’s recreational use statute, a set of laws that protect landowners from liability when they open their property to recreational use, like climbing.

Despite being home to a vast quantity of climbing resources, only 5% of land in Texas is public. There is a significant opportunity to open privately owned climbing resources in the state; however, landowners often have concerns related to climbing liability that can be difficult to address under current Texas law.

For the last two years, Access Fund has been working with key legislators to strengthen the laws that protect landowners from liability when opening their property to rock climbing. In March, the Senate Committee on State Affairs unanimously advanced a bill that would add “rock climbing” as a defined activity to the recreational use statute. Access Fund secured support from influential trade associations and from the climbing community including Austin Bouldering Project, Crux Climbing Center, Rock-About, and the Texas Climbers Coalition.

The legislature in Texas meets for only 140 days every other year. Right now, we’re waiting on our landowner liability bill to be heard by the full House and Senate. The bill has broad support, and we have reason to be optimistic. If approved, it goes to the governor for his signature.

In addition to advancing liability protections for landowners, Access Fund has joined a coalition of conservation and recreation groups seeking a constitutional amendment to fully fund Texas state parks like Hueco Tanks, Enchanted Rock, and McKinney Falls. This is a significant effort which, if successful, would finally allow Texas state parks to have a predictable and reliable source of funding.

For more information about our work in Texas, visit www.accessfund.org/texas.