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ericulner


May 17, 2009, 3:55 PM
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Draper's Bluff access
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Date: May 17, 2009
To: An Open Letter to the Climbing Community
From: Eric and Kathy Ulner
Re: Draper's Bluff access

It is with great regret that we announce the immediate closure of our Draper's Bluff property to climbing and any general recreational use. We had allowed the general public open (day) access to our property from the date of our purchasing it in October, 1996 through autumn of 2008. In the latter part of 2008, due to ongoing annoyances caused by non-climbers, we posted signage indicating No Access to non-climbers. We had experienced several occasions where non-climbers were acting irresponsibly and had endangered the physical wellbeing of climbers.

Just this past week, we were informed that (unbeknownst to us) the Legislature of the State of Illinois had made a significant change in the language of the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act. The Act can be read in its entirety here:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2081&ChapAct=745%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B65%2F&ChapterID=58&ChapterName=CIVIL+IMMUNITIES&ActName=Recreational+Use+of+Land+and+Water+Areas+Act.

For many many years, the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act protected private landowners from liability by essentially stating that as long as a property owner did not charge admission, they would have a greatly limited liability if the entrant was present for recreation or conservation purposes. This language has been changed to hunting or recreational shooting only.

With this change, any private property owner in Illinois can be held liable for a hiker's sprained ankle, an equestrian's injury from being thrown from a horse, a drowning from a fishing accident, or a climber's groundfall injury. Whoever the lawmakers are that voted for this change should be held responsible in the next election cycle. We can think of only one reason that such a change in this Act would take place...money. There are dollar signs in they eyes of trial lawyers who would stand to gain from the increase in lawsuits. No one can convince us that there was no lobbying taking place by trial lawyers for this change.

We never thought we would see the day that we would have to close Draper's Bluff to climbing. It has been a pleasure to meet new climbers from the area and those passing through. Many of our friendships have been forged in this way. We are left with no choice, though, but to close our property to anyone. We have but one house to live in and are not willing to risk it to pay off the grieving family of a climbing fatality or lifelong rehab expenses of a spinal injury. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will not take responsibility for their own actions, trial lawyers who smell money, and legislators who cater to both.

We encourage the climbing community to become active in seeing a change in this legislation. We wish to be able to re-open our property to the climbing community. More information regarding this and what can be done will be posted at www.ilclimbers.org


guangzhou


May 17, 2009, 5:26 PM
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Re: [ericulner] Draper's Bluff access [In reply to]
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Eric,

Wow, who would have ever guessed it would come to this for Drappers. At least while you owned it. I wonder, would it be possible to insure the property to protect you. Maybe with climbers donating the fund to cover the insurance. Drapers is such a valued recourse in that part of the country.

I'll help you spread the word.
Good Luck
Eman
In Indonesia now. We have no access problems here.


veganclimber


May 17, 2009, 6:35 PM
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Frown

Thanks for letting us play in your backyard for so long. Too bad the lawyers had to ruin it.

In reply to:
With this change, any private property owner in Illinois can be held liable for a hiker's sprained ankle, an equestrian's injury from being thrown from a horse, a drowning from a fishing accident, or a climber's groundfall injury.

What is this country coming to?


shrug7


May 17, 2009, 6:49 PM
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Eric,

I've met you a couple times in my years climbing at Drapers, Thank you for the years of fun that you allow us all to have.

Hopefully maybe, they change this.

~Mike


czo


May 17, 2009, 6:53 PM
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I've never climbed in Illinois, but I appreciate the well written and genuine letter you've presented here. Thank you for being rational and hopefully the climbers in the area can work towards changing the laws.


guangzhou


May 17, 2009, 7:17 PM
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Re: [czo] Draper's Bluff access [In reply to]
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czo wrote:
I've never climbed in Illinois, but I appreciate the well written and genuine letter you've presented here. Thank you for being rational and hopefully the climbers in the area can work towards changing the laws.

Not sure you know, but Eric is a very pro-active climber. In both new routes and access issues.

Eric, we did get the law changed in TN when I was dealing with some of the King's Bluff Access issues.

We also had a lawyer look in a access card that required a liability waiver. The law was amended before we finished exploring that option.

How does this effect other area like Cedar, Giant, and Jackson Falls?

Again, let me know if I can help somehow.

Eman


potreroed


May 17, 2009, 7:19 PM
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I don't have time right now to read the whole law but wouldn't it be possible to have climbers sign a release of liability and not allow non-climbers access at all?


klong


May 17, 2009, 11:56 PM
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Bill HB4175 was sponsored by: Michael W. Tryon does ammends the ILCS to include "snow mobiling"

Bill HB0494 which would include "Excercise" as a form of recreation amongst other things.

The bill HB0494 is prefered version since it includes "excercise" as recreation.

Both of these are bills in the IL house.

Hope the information provides assistance.


(This post was edited by klong on May 18, 2009, 12:29 AM)


guangzhou


May 18, 2009, 12:18 AM
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Re: [klong] Draper's Bluff access [In reply to]
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klong wrote:
Bill HB4175 was sponsored by: Michael W. Tryon

His contact information is as follows:

Springfield Office:
201-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-0432
(217) 782-3189 FAX

District Office:
1 N. Virginia St.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
(815) 459-6453
(815) 455-8284 FAX
McHenry County

Bill HB0494 which was the precursor was benign and did include "Excercise" as a form of recreation amongst other things.

I would contact the above representative and make sure he knows your stand on the issue.

Hope the information provides assistance.

Exercise doesn't count as recreation? Just curious, nothing more.

We have become a lawsuit nation.

E


lostparrot


May 18, 2009, 1:02 AM
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Sorry to hear this great place is now closed due to the stupidity of our elected officials. We were just at Draper's a month ago and had a GREAT TIME. Hopefully, we can do something to get this law changed. Maybe Access Fund could help?
My condonlences Eric, and to all climbers. Hope to see you at Jackson's.


ericulner


May 18, 2009, 5:23 AM
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Regarding the House Bills that call for further amendment of the language, yes there are a few legislators who have tried to return the Act to a sensible read. I've been informed that it is indeed the lobbyists representing the IL Trial Lawyers Association who are at the forefront of keeping the scope of the Act so limited.

Kathy and I are completely willing and open to entertain all options that may allow us to return to the open-for-climbing-access once had. We took a stroll along the cliff yesterday. It did seem very strangely quiet. The calls for rope, belay on/off, etc. that we can hear from the house often would give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, being a climber.

I've got feeling that this issue may take a while to sort out. Hoping not too long for the climbing community's sake. What an irony I felt yesterday- I'm the president of the Illinois Climbers Association and I posted a no-climbing sign...


jbroom


May 18, 2009, 5:56 AM
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A sad day for So Ill indeed. I have spent quite a few days in the past climbing in the coolest backyard ever. Thank you Eric, Kathy and Lucas for letting us all enjoy it while it lasted. Hopefully change can happen down the road.
Jeremy


ClimbitToday


May 18, 2009, 7:33 AM
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I think I am going to need therapy. I am depressed from learning of this and hope something will be done to change the law!


ClimbitToday


May 18, 2009, 8:53 AM
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Everyone should send an e-mail to the state rep http://michaeltryon.com/index.php?option=com_contact&task=view&contact_id=1&Itemid


boondock_saint


May 18, 2009, 9:23 AM
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Re: [klong] Draper's Bluff access [In reply to]
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klong wrote:
Bill HB4175 was sponsored by: Michael W. Tryon does ammends the ILCS to include "snow mobiling"

Bill HB0494 which would include "Excercise" as a form of recreation amongst other things.

The bill HB0494 is prefered version since it includes "excercise" as recreation.

Both of these are bills in the IL house.

Hope the information provides assistance.

Small correction:

HB4175 is CRIM CD-SEXUAL RELATION-FAMILY (makes some amendments to definition of "family member" in cases of sexual assault, etc.)

HB4176 is RECR LAND USE-SNOWMOBILING

I'm not sure if there is any point in non-residents writing to the sponsor of the bill as we cannot really affect them with votes.

One thing I find interesting, is that Michael W. Tyron, along with three other legislators, has been added as a co-sponsor of the HB0494 bill. The original sponsor of the HB0494 bill is John A. Fritchey, so I encourage everyone to contact him as well, and thank him for introducing a bill that makes a bit more sense. Also let him know there there are lot of people out there who care deeply about the outcome of this bill. Eric's case may be a great example of how the other version of the bill would affect citizens throughout the state of Illinois and beyond!

I would really like to know who introduced the original version that left hunting and shooting (or any combination thereof) but removed EVERY OTHER activity ... I guess the NRA had some input on this bill as well?

Anyway John A. Fritchey's contact info:

Springfield Office:
200-7S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2458
(217) 557-7214 FAX
District Office:
2539 North Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 871-4000
(773) 871-4012 FAX
Cook County


boondock_saint


May 18, 2009, 9:42 AM
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ClimbitToday wrote:
Everyone should send an e-mail to the state rep http://michaeltryon.com/index.php?option=com_contact&task=view&contact_id=1&Itemid

Easy there John, for all I can tell he just added snowmobiling. I'm still trying to find out who made the original change that removed everything else. Or if this was this a new bill? This is somewhat confusing: There are two bills in the Civil Immunities section:
745 ILCS 65/Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act.
745 ILCS 67/State of Illinois Recreational Use of Leased Land Act.

745 ILCS 65 states that "Recreational or conservation purpose" means entry onto the land of another to conduct hunting or recreational shooting or a combination thereof or any activity solely related to the aforesaid hunting or recreational shooting.

745 ILCS 67 states that "Recreational use" means any activity undertaken for conservation, resource management, exercise, or recreation on leased land.

Any lawyers care to explain what is up? How can there be two bills that have such different wording?

65: http://www.ilga.gov/...and+Water+Areas+Act.
67: http://www.ilga.gov/...+of+Leased+Land+Act.


Capt_Dirty_Pantaloons


May 18, 2009, 9:43 AM
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boondock_saint wrote:


I'm not sure if there is any point in non-residents writing to the sponsor of the bill as we cannot really affect them with votes.

From a non-resident perspective the loss of possible revenue from tourist dollars may have a little sway in the matter. Not enough to make anyone say"Oh crap what was I thinking, I am a dumb monkey", but how much extra revenue do lawyers winning lawsuits generate for local business?


gasherbrum


May 18, 2009, 9:56 AM
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John Fritchey is my state rep. I sent him the following email today:

I live in Ravenswood, Chicago, in your district. I have voted for you consistently.

I understand you were responsible for a bill involving the use of recreational lands in Illinois. I am a rock climber of 30 years, having built two climbing gyms in your district, and an architect working in Illinois, and Chicago.

I believe the act forces a liability on a private landowner for climbing and hiking accidents incurred on their land. This has resulted in the closure of one of the best known and used areas in Illinois, Draper's Bluff in Southern Illinois.

Access to these areas is difficult at best, and the use of legislation to increase the difficulty of use is one of the greatest problems we face now and in the future. Climbing is one of the most benign, statistically safe, and eco friendly uses of private and public lands. We are looking at a future in which use and access will be restricted to those who can afford the cost of restrictions, or afford the cost of lobbying to protect a special interest.

I count on you to repair, ammend, or rescind the language in the legislation that results in this form of access restriction.

Yours truly,

Erol Altay
4746 N. Virginia
Chicago, Illinois 60625


gasherbrum


May 18, 2009, 9:59 AM
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However, as a further note, I got the following reply from John Fritchey immediately:

Mr. Altay,


Just to clarify, I am the sponsor of legislation which would re-open lands for these purposes, and have been working with Openlands and numerous other groups in an effort to pass the bill in order to address issues just like those which you raise. Thank you for reaching out to me on this matter.


- Rep. John Fritchey


annecy007


May 18, 2009, 10:25 AM
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 Eric and Kathy,

Your kindness and efforts regarding Drapers have been above and beyond for many years. Your back yard is a special place, but your family's security and your contributions to this community are far more precious. Thank you for all you have done for our area in SoIL and I hope we as a community can give back by contacting the legislators. I never took a full moon on the cliff for granted.

Anne


climberjevans


May 18, 2009, 10:40 AM
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I urge everyone who lives in Illinois call their Representatives and let them know you want protection put back into the bill for recreation. I just got off the phone with Hoffman and Flitchey's offices. Please don't hesitate, call now!
In reply to:


boondock_saint


May 18, 2009, 11:30 AM
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climberjevans wrote:
I urge everyone who lives in Illinois call their Representatives and let them know you want protection put back into the bill for recreation. I just got off the phone with Hoffman and Flitchey's offices. Please don't hesitate, call now!

Jeff what did they say? Has anyone asked about how this bill got started/who introduced it/why everything except for guns-related activities was not included?

Please let us know what the representatives said if you do not mind.


(This post was edited by boondock_saint on May 18, 2009, 11:54 AM)


rock_fencer


May 18, 2009, 11:55 AM
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Very very sad considering Drapers is the premier Trad crag of IL.

Eric has done a phenomenal job of allowing us access to his back yard.

Perhaps this is a chance for the access fund to help out legaly with rectifying this.


boondock_saint


May 18, 2009, 1:29 PM
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I spent some time looking around the Illinois legislature site and it is very confusing. I've tried to trace bills to other bills, and see what happened where. I'm not a lawyer and not very familiar with the categorization and archiving of the bills that have been introduced. I've stumbled upon numerous introductions to amendments and whatnot like this one from the 95th assembly.

In reply to:
95TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
State of Illinois
2007 and 2008
SB0146


Introduced 1/31/2007, by Sen. Deanna Demuzio


SYNOPSIS AS INTRODUCED:

745 ILCS 65/2 from Ch. 70, par. 32

Amends the Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act. Provides that the definition of "recreational or conservation purpose" is enlarged to include: hiking, operating an off-highway vehicle, rock climbing, trapping, horseback riding on the rider's own horse, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, water or snow skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, engaging in an activity with an educational or conservation purpose, a combination of any of those activities, or any activity solely related to any listed activity (at present, only hunting, recreational shooting, a combination of those 2 activities, or any activity solely related to hunting or shooting are included in the definition). Effective immediately.

Where's Reno when you need him? Could use some input on just wtf is going on? Would anyone care to contact their rep and find out how long this language has been in its current form? Is that indeed the current form?

Rather than everyone shooting from the hip, we should find out what exactly the current language of the law says and what the bills mentioned in the above posts intend to do.


jkasmann


May 18, 2009, 2:23 PM
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boondock_saint wrote:
Easy there John, for all I can tell he just added snowmobiling. I'm still trying to find out who made the original change that removed everything else. Or if this was this a new bill? This is somewhat confusing: There are two bills in the Civil Immunities section:
745 ILCS 65/Recreational Use of Land and Water Areas Act.
745 ILCS 67/State of Illinois Recreational Use of Leased Land Act.

745 ILCS 65 states that "Recreational or conservation purpose" means entry onto the land of another to conduct hunting or recreational shooting or a combination thereof or any activity solely related to the aforesaid hunting or recreational shooting.

745 ILCS 67 states that "Recreational use" means any activity undertaken for conservation, resource management, exercise, or recreation on leased land.

Any lawyers care to explain what is up? How can there be two bills that have such different wording?

65: http://www.ilga.gov/...and+Water+Areas+Act.
67: http://www.ilga.gov/...+of+Leased+Land+Act.

My interpretation of the IL statutes is that "745 ILCS 67/State of Illinois Recreational Use of Leased Land Act" only applies to land that is leased by an owner to the state - not the case with Draper's.

I see two current proposed modifications to 745 ILCS 65, with different language:
http://www.ilga.gov/...6/HB/09600HB4176.htm - submitted by Michael W. Tryon, to add snowmobiling
http://www.ilga.gov/...6/HB/09600HB0494.htm - submitted by John A. Fritchey, to add "conservation, restoration, resource management, education, nature study and exploration, exercise, outdoor recreational use, any combination thereof"

It looks like the status of both of these bills is "Re-referred to Rules Committee". Would it help to contact the members of the rules committee? Here they are: http://www.ilga.gov/...tteeID=602&GA=96.

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