Restore Public Access to Public Land and Water
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For over 100 years, state law allowed the public to directly cross railroad tracks in Wisconsin. Now Wisconsin citizens are denied this safe traditional legal access to hundreds of miles of wild public Wisconsin land and water due to an unjustified law change in 2006. For example, the Wisconsin DNR identified 134 former RR crossings to the Mississippi River which cannot be used because of the threat of trespass. In addition, 121 DNR wildlife areas fishery areas, forests, natural areas and parks have RR crossing which makes access to major portions of those properties difficult or in some cases impossible to access without trespassing.
Historically, it has been legal and safe for the public to step across railroad right-of-way to access public lands and waters. Almost all fatalities of people on foot are at dedicated crossings, not those simply stepping directly across the right of way for recreational purposes. A bill to restore the right for the public to legally step across the railroad right of way passed the Assembly late in the 2016 legislative
season but was not considered by a senate committee.
Mountain bikers, anglers, hunters, birders, trappers, photographers, hikers, cross country skiers, resort owners, business leaders, tourism leaders, local government officials, agency staff, sheriffs, judges and district attorneys have expressed their concern about the loss of this long held right to access public lands and waters. We the undersigned hereby petition our state of Wisconsin Legislators to pass and the Governor to sign legislation that will restore the right of the public to legally step across railroad right of way to gain access to public land and water.
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