As public recreation areas become more crowded, the use of private land is becoming more enticing to people seeking solitude and a "back to nature" experience. Recreational use of forestland includes leasing land for hunting and fishing, as well as charging fees for other outdoor activities like cross-country skiing, horseback riding, hiking or mountain biking.

Charging fees for using private land is not a new concept; there are well developed markets for hunting leases in the southern U.S. Ski areas in northern New England have developed into four season recreational areas featuring a variety of activities. The economic viability of this type of enterprise depends on the type of land and its location, as well as the scope of services offered. Hunting requires large acreage and high quality habitat for wildlife. Fishing requires access to ponds or streams. A well developed trail system is essential for dispersed recreation, such as hiking, cross-country skiing, trail biking, or horseback riding. An option for landowners with small acreage could be to work cooperatively in order to create larger acreage with more extensive trail system.

The issue of liability makes landowners reluctant to grant access to their property for any type of recreation. In Rhode Island, landowners are granted limited liability (RIGL 32-6-3) for land available for free public recreational use. Liability insurance is a necessity for any commercial enterprise. This may be available as a rider on your homeowners policy. A lease or another small form of written agreement is advisable to spell out the terms of using the property.

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