North Carolina Recreational Use Statute NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL STATUTES CHAPTER 38A. LANDOWNER LIABILITY
§ 38A-1. Purpose
The purpose of this Chapter is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public at no cost for educational and recreational purposes by limiting the liability of the owner to persons entering the land for those purposes.
§ 38A-2. Definitions
The following definitions shall apply throughout this Chapter, unless otherwise specified:
(1) “Charge” means a price or fee asked for services, entertainment, recreation performed, or products offered for sale on land or in return for an invitation or permission to enter upon land, except as otherwise excluded in this Chapter.
(2) “Educational purpose” means any activity undertaken as part of a formal or informal educational program, and viewing historical, natural, archaeological, or scientific sites.
(3) “Land” means real property, land, and water, but does not mean a dwelling and the property immediately adjacent to and surrounding such dwelling that is generally used for activities associated with occupancy of the dwelling as a living space.
(4) “Owner” means any individual or nongovernmental legal entity that has any fee, leasehold interest, or legal possession, and any employee or agent of such individual or nongovernmental legal entity.
(5) “Recreational purpose” means any activity undertaken for recreation, exercise, education, relaxation, refreshment, diversion, or pleasure.
§ 38A-3. Exclusions
For purposes of this Chapter, the term “charge” does not include:
(1) Any contribution in kind, services or cash contributed by a person, legal entity, nonprofit organization, or governmental entity other than the owner, whether or not sanctioned or solicited by the owner, the purpose of which is to (i) remedy damage to land caused by educational or recreational use; or (ii) provide warning of hazards on, or remove hazards from, land used for educational or recreational purposes.
(2) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or otherwise provided by the State or federal tax codes, any property tax abatement or relief received by the owner from the State or local taxing authority in exchange for the owner's agreement to open the land for educational or recreational purposes.
§ 38A-4. Limitation of liability
Except as specifically recognized by or provided for in this Chapter, an owner of land who either directly or indirectly invites or permits without charge any person to use such land for educational or recreational purposes owes the person the same duty of care that he owes a trespasser, except nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit or nullify the doctrine of attractive nuisance and the owner shall inform direct invitees of artificial or unusual hazards of which the owner has actual knowledge. This section does not apply to an owner who invites or permits any person to use land for a purpose for which the land is regularly used and for which a price or fee is usually charged even if it is not charged in that instance, or to an owner whose purpose in extending an invitation or granting permission is to promote a commercial enterprise.
CHAPTER 113A: Pollution Control and Environment.
ARTICLE 6: North Carolina Trails System.
§113A-83. Short title.
This Article shall be known and may be cited as the “North Carolina Trails System Act.”
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, § 1.
§ 113A-84. Declaration of policy and purpose.
(a) In order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanded population and in order to promote public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the outdoor, natural and remote areas of the State, trails should be established in natural, scenic areas of the State, and in and near urban areas.
(b) The purpose of this Article is to provide the means for attaining these objectives by instituting a State system of scenic and recreation trails, coordinated with and complemented by existing and future local trail segments or systems, and by prescribing the methods by which, and standards according to which, components may be added to the State trails system.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; 1993, c. 184, s. 1.
§ 113A-85. Definitions.
Except as otherwise required by context, the following terms when used in this Article shall be construed respectively to mean:
(1) “Department” means the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
(2) “Political subdivision” means any county, any incorporated city or town, or other political subdivision.
(3) “Scenic easement” means a perpetual easement in land which
a. Is held for the benefit of the people of North Carolina,
b. Is specifically enforceable by its holder or beneficiary, and
c. Limits or obligates the holder of the servient estate, his heirs, and assigns with respect to their use and management of land and activities conducted thereon, the object of such limitations and obligations being the maintenance or enhancement of the natural beauty of the land in question or of areas affected by it.
(4) “Secretary” means the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, except as otherwise specified in this Article.
(5) “State trails system” means the trails system established in this Article or pursuant to the State Parks Act, Article 2C of Chapter 113 of the General Statutes, and including all trails and trail segments, together with their rights-of-way, added by any of the procedures described in this Article or Article 2C of Chapter 113 of the General Statutes.
(6) “Trail” means:
a. Park trail. – A trail designated and managed as a unit of the North Carolina State Parks System under Article 2C of Chapter 113 of the General Statutes.
b. Designated trail. – A trail designated by the Secretary pursuant to this Article as a component of the State trails system and that is managed by another governmental agency or by a corporation listed with the Secretary of State.
c. A State scenic trail, State recreation trail, or State connecting trail under G.S. 113A-86 when the intended primary use of the trail is to serve as a park trail or designated trail.
d. Any other trail that is open to the public and that the owner, lessee, occupant, or person otherwise in control of the land on which the trail is located allows to be used as a trail without compensation, including a trail that is not designated by the Secretary as a component of the State trails system.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(63); 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1004, s. 19(b); 1993, c. 184, s. 2; 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a).
§ 113A-86. Composition of State trails system.
The State trails system shall be composed of designated:
(1) State scenic trails, which are defined as extended trails so located as to provide maximum potential for the appreciation of natural areas and for the conservation and enjoyment of the significant scenic, historic, natural, ecological, geological or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass.
(2) State recreation trails, which are defined as trails planned principally for recreational value and may include trails for foot travel, horseback, nonmotorized bicycles, nonmotorized water vehicles, and two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive motorized vehicles. More than one of the aforesaid types of travel may be permitted on a single trail in the discretion of the Secretary.
(3) Connecting or side trails, which will provide additional points of public access to State recreation or State scenic trails or which will provide connections between such trails.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; 1993, c. 184, s. 3.
§ 113A-87. Authority to designate trails.
The Department may establish and designate trails on:
(1) Lands administered by the Department,
(2) Lands under the jurisdiction of a State department, political subdivision, or federal agency, or
(3) Private lands provided, fee-simple title, lesser estates, scenic easements, easements of surface ingress and egress running with the land, leases, or other written agreements are obtained from landowners through which a State trail may pass.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; 1979, c. 6, s. 1; 1991, c. 115; 1993, c. 184, s. 4.
§ 113A-88. North Carolina Trails Committee; composition; meetings and functions.
(a) Repealed by Session Laws 1973, c. 1262, s. 82.
(b) The Committee shall meet in various sections of the State not less than two times annually to advise the Department on all matters directly or indirectly pertaining to trails, their use, extent, location, and the other objectives and purposes of this Article.
© The Committee shall coordinate trail development among local governments, and shall assist local governments in the formation of their trail plans and advise the Department quarterly of its findings.
(d) The Secretary, with advice of the Committee, shall study trail needs and potentials, and make additions to the State Trails System as needed. He shall submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly on trail activities by the Department, including rights-of- way that have been established and on the program for implementing this Article. Each report shall include a short statement on the significance of the various trails to the System. The Secretary shall make such rules as to trail development, management, and use that are necessary for the proper implementation of this Article.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; c. 1262, s. 82; 1987, c. 827, s. 132.
§ 113A-89. Location of trails.
The process of locating routes of designated trails to be added to the system shall be as follows:
For State scenic trails, the Secretary or a designee, after consulting with the Committee, shall recommend a route. For State recreation trails and for connecting or side trails, the Secretary or a designee, after consulting with the Committee, shall select the route. The Secretary may provide technical assistance to political subdivisions or private, nonprofit organizations that develop, construct, or maintain designated trails or other public trails that complement the State trails system. When a route shall traverse land within the jurisdiction of a governmental unit or political subdivision, the Department shall consult with such unit or such subdivision prior to its final determination of the location of the route. The selected route shall be compatible with preservation or enhancement of the environment it traverses. Reasonable effort shall be made to minimize any adverse effects upon adjacent landowners and users. Notice of the selected route shall be published by the Department in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the trail is located, together with appropriate maps and descriptions to be conspicuously posted at the appropriate courthouse. Such publication shall be prior to the designation of the trail by the Secretary.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1; 1993, c. 184, s. 5.
§113A-90. Scenic easements within right-of-way.
Within the boundaries of the right-of-way, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Administration may acquire, on behalf of the State of North Carolina, lands in fee title, or interest in land in the form of scenic easements, cooperative agreements, easements of surface ingress and egress running with the land, leases, or less than fee estates. Acquisition of land or of interest therein may be by gift, purchased with donated funds or funds appropriated by the governmental agencies for this purpose, proceeds from the sale of bonds or exchange. Any change in value of land resulting from the grant of an easement shall be taken into consideration in the assessment of the land for tax purposes.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1.
§113A-91. Trails within parks; conflict of laws.
Any component of the System that is or shall become a part of any State park, recreation area, wildlife management area, or similar area shall be subject to the provisions of this Article as well as any other laws under which the other areas are administered, and in the case of conflict between the provisions the more restrictive provisions shall apply.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s.1.
§113A-92. Uniform trail markers.
The Department, in consultation with the Committee, shall establish a uniform marker for trails contained in the System. An additional appropriate symbol characterizing specific trails may be included on the marker. The markers shall be placed at all access points, together with signs indicating the modes of locomotion that are prohibited for the trail, provided that where the trail constitutes a portion of a national scenic trail, use of the national scenic trail uniform marker shall be considered sufficient. The route of the trail and the boundaries of the right-of-way shall be adequately marked.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1.
§ 113A-92.1. Adopt-A-Trail Program.
The Department shall establish an Adopt-A-Trail Program to coordinate with the Trails Committee and local groups or persons on trail development and maintenance. Local involvement shall be encouraged, and interested groups are authorized to “adopt-a- trail” for such purposes as placing trail markers, trail building, trail blazing, litter control, resource protection, and any other activities related to the policies and purposes of this Article.
HISTORY: 1987, c. 738, s. 153.
§113A-93. Administrative policy.
The North Carolina Trails System shall be administered by the Department according to the policies and criteria set forth in this Article. The Department shall, in addition, have or designate the responsibility for maintaining the trails, building bridges, campsites, shelters, and related public-use facilities where required.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1.
§113A-94. Incorporation in National Trails System.
Nothing in this Article shall preclude a component of the State Trails System from becoming a part of the National Trails System. The Secretary shall coordinate the State Trails System with the National Trails System and is directed to encourage and assist any federal studies for inclusion of North Carolina trails in the National Trails System. The Department may enter into written cooperative agreements for joint federal-State administration of a North Carolina component of the National Trails System, provided such agreements for administration of land uses are not less restrictive than those set forth in this Article.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 670, s. 1.
§ 113A-95. Trail use liability.
(a) Any person, as an owner, lessee, occupant, or otherwise in control of land, who allows without compensation another person to use the land for designated trail or other public trail purposes or to construct, maintain, or cause to be constructed or maintained a designated trail or other public trail owes the person the same duty of care he owes a trespasser.
(b) Any person who without compensation has constructed, maintained, or caused to be constructed or maintained a designated trail or other public trail pursuant to a written agreement with any person who is an owner, lessee, occupant, or otherwise in control of land on which a trail is located shall owe a person using the trail the same duty of care owed a trespasser.
© Repealed by Session Laws 1993, c. 184, s. 6.
HISTORY: 1987, c. 498; 1991, c. 38; 1993, c. 184, s. 6.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Text of Code also available at http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/statutes/statutes%5Fin%5Fhtml/chp113a.html on 11/13/00.
CHAPTER 113A: Pollution Control and Environment.
ARTICLE 5: North Carolina Appalachian Trails System Act.
§113A-72. Short title.
This Article may be cited as the North Carolina Appalachian Trails System Act.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 545, s. 1.
§113A-73. Policy and purpose.
(a) In order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanded population and in order to promote public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas of the State, the Appalachian Trail should be protected in North Carolina as a segment of the National Scenic Trails System.
(b) The purpose of this Article is to provide the means for attaining these objectives by instituting a North Carolina Appalachian Trail System, designating the Appalachian Trail lying or located in the North Carolina Counties of Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, Haywood, Swain, Graham, Macon, and Clay, as defined in the Federal Register of the National Trails Act as the basic component of that System, and by prescribing the methods by which, and standards according to which, additional connecting trails may be added to the System.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 545, s. 2.
§ 113A-74. Appalachian Trails System; connecting or side trails; coordination with the National Trails System Act.
Connecting or side trails may be established, designated and marked as components of the Appalachian Trail System by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in consultation with the federal agencies charged with the responsibility for the administration and management of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. Criteria and standards of establishment will coincide with those set forth in the National Trails System Act (PL 90- 543).
HISTORY: 1973, c. 545, s. 3; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(61); 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a).
§ 113A-75. Assistance under this Article with the National Trails System Act (PL 90-543).
(a) The Department of Administration in cooperation with other appropriate State departments shall consult with the federal agencies charged with the administration of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and develop a mutually agreeable plan for the orderly and coordinated acquisition of Appalachian Trail right-of-way and the associated tracts, as needed, to provide a suitable environment for the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.
(b) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the federal agencies charged with the responsibility of the administration of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina shall give due consideration to the conservation of the environment of the Appalachian Trail and, in accordance with the National Trails System Act, may obtain advice and assistance from local governments, Carolina Mountain Club, Nantahala Hiking Club, Piedmont Appalachian Trail Hikers, Appalachian Trail Conference, other interested organizations and individuals, landowners and land users concerned.
© The Board of Transportation shall cooperate and assist in carrying out the purposes of this Article and the National Trails System Act where their highway projects cross or may be adjacent to any component of the Appalachian Trail System.
(d) Lands acquired by the State of North Carolina within the 200-feet right-of-way of the Appalachian Trail and within the exterior boundaries of the Pisgah or Nantahala National Forests, will be conveyed to the United States Forest Service as the federal agency charged with the responsibility for the administration and management of the Appalachian Trail within these specific areas.
(e) Lands acquired by the State of North Carolina outside of the boundaries of the Appalachian Trail right-of-way will be administered by the appropriate State department in such a manner as to preserve and enhance the environment of the Appalachian Trail.
(f) In consultation with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the federal agency charged with the responsibility of the administration of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina shall establish use regulations in accordance with the National Trails System Act.
(g) The use of motor vehicles on the trails of the North Carolina Appalachian Trail System may be authorized when such use is necessary to meet emergencies or to enable adjacent landowners to have reasonable access to their lands and timber rights provided that the granting of this access is in accordance with limitations and conditions of such use set forth in the National Trails System Act.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 507, s. 5; c. 545, s. 4; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(62); 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a).
§113A-76. Acquisition of rights-of-way and lands; manner of acquiring.
The State of North Carolina may use lands for trail purposes within the boundaries of areas under its administration that are included in the rights-of-way selected for the Appalachian Trail System. The Department of Administration may acquire lands or easements by donation or purchase with funds donated or appropriated for such purpose.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 545, s. 5.
§ 113A-77. Expenditures authorized.
The Department is authorized to spend any federal, State, local or private funds available for this purpose to the Department for acquisition and development of the Appalachian Trail System.
HISTORY: 1973, c. 545, s. 6; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 125.
§§113A-78 to 113A-82. Reserved for future codification purposes.