Missouri

Recreational Use/Recreational Trespass Laws

§ 537.345. Definitions for sections 537.345 to 537.347

As used in sections 537.345 to 537.347, the following terms mean:

(1) “Charge”, the admission price or fee asked by an owner of land or an invitation or permission without price or fee to use land for recreational purposes when such invitation or permission is given for the purpose of sales promotion, advertising or public goodwill in fostering business purposes;

(2) “Land”, all real property, land and water, and all structures, fixtures, equipment and machinery thereon;

(3) “Owner”, any individual, legal entity or governmental agency that has any ownership or security interest whatever or lease or right of possession in land;

(4) “Recreational use”, hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, biking, nature study, winter sports, viewing or enjoying archaeological or scenic sites, or other similar activities undertaken for recreation, exercise, education, relaxation, or pleasure on land owned by another

§ 537.346. Landowner owes no duty of care to persons entering without fee to keep land safe for recreational use

Except as provided in sections 537.345 to 537.348, an owner of land owes no duty of care to any person who enters on the land without charge to keep his land safe for recreational use or to give any general or specific warning with respect to any natural or artificial condition, structure, or personal property thereon.

§ 537.347. Landowner directly or indirectly invites or permits persons on land for recreation, effect

Except as provided in sections 537.345 to 537.348, an owner of land who directly or indirectly invites or permits any person to enter his or her land for recreational use, without charge, whether or not the land is posted, or who directly or indirectly invites or permits any person to enter his or her land for recreational use in compliance with a state-administered recreational access program, does not thereby:

(1) Extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose;

(2) Confer upon such person the status of an invitee, or any other status requiring of the owner a duty of special or reasonable care;

(3) Assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to such person or property caused by any natural or artificial condition, structure or personal property on the premises; or

(4) Assume responsibility for any damage or injury to any other person or property caused by an act or omission of such person.

§ 537.348. Landowner liable, when--definitions

Nothing in this act shall be construed to create liability, but it does not limit liability that otherwise would be incurred by those who use the land of others, or by owners of land for:

(1) Malicious or grossly negligent failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, structure, personal property which the owner knew or should have known to be dangerous, or negligent failure to guard or warn against an ultrahazardous condition which the owner knew or should have known to be dangerous;

(2) Injury suffered by a person who has paid a charge for entry to the land; or

(3) Injuries occurring on or in:

(a) Any land within the corporate boundaries of any city, municipality, town, or village in this state;

(b) Any swimming pool. “Swimming pool” means a pool or tank, especially an artificial pool or tank, intended and adapted for swimming and held out as a swimming pool;

(c) Any residential area. “Residential area” as used herein means a tract of land of one acre or less predominately used for residential purposes, or a tract of land of any size used for multifamily residential services; or

(d) Any noncovered land. “Noncovered land” as used herein means any portion of any land, the surface of which portion is actually used primarily for commercial, industrial, mining or manufacturing purposes; provided, however, that use of any portion of any land primarily for agricultural, grazing, forestry, conservation, natural area, owner's recreation or similar or related uses or purposes shall not under any circumstances be deemed to be use of such portion for commercial, industrial, mining or manufacturing purposes.

Financial Incentives for Public Access

Property Tax Incentives:
Current Use Programs: 

Statute: Taxation and Revenue: Assessment and Levy of Property Taxes, Mo. Rev. Stat. 137.115, 137.017

Purpose of Assessment: Assess agricultural land based on its productive capability. Also, for the purpose of encouraging forestry when lands are devoted exclusively to such purpose, and the reconstruction, redevelopment, and rehabilitation of obsolete, decadent, or blighted areas partial tax relief may be provided.

Method of Assessment: True value in money of land which is in use as agricultural and horticultural property based on productive capability.

Application: Automatic eligibility.

Current Use Taxation for open-space land: 

Missouri has no current use taxation to promote open space or recreation.

Tax incentive specifically for providing access: 
Tax Incentive when land is subject to Conservation Easement: 

Statute: V.A.M.S. 67.895.

Valuation: In determining the assessed valuation placed on such open space or area for purposes of taxation of the private ownership, the assessor shall take due account of and assess private property interests with regard to the limitation of future use of the land.

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Income Tax: 

Missouri has no tax credits or incentives for the donation of land or conservation easements.

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Hunter Access Program: 

No programs classified as “state administrated walk-in hunter access programs” were identified in this state via general internet search. However, for more accurate information regarding this state’s hunter access programs or efforts, please view the Hunting Heritage Action Plan Hunter Access Program Assessment Survey Report.

Case Law

State ex rel. Young v. Wood (Sup. 2008) 254 S.W.3d 871

-To invoke the Recreational Use Act (RUA), the general requirements are: (1) an owner of the land; (2) entry upon the land; (3) entry upon the land without charge; and (4) entry for recreational use.
-Immunity under the Recreational Use Act (RUA) does not require that land be opened to the entire general public.
-Under the Recreational Use Act (RUA), farmers, who gave permission, separately, to two hunters to enter the farm for the purpose of hunting wild turkeys, owed no duty to warn first hunter, who was accidentally shot and killed by second hunter, that second hunter was present on the farm.

Wilson v. U.S., C.A.8 (Mo.)1993, 989 F.2d 953

-Fee of two dollars per night paid by boy scouts for right to stay overnight in building on Fort Leonard Wood was not a “charge” and did not deprive United States of benefit of Missouri recreational use statute in suit under Federal Tort Claims Act for death of one boy scout and injury to two others while on the post.

Foster v. St. Louis County (Sup. 2007) 239 S.W.3d 599

Missouri Recreational Use Act did not violate equal protection by granting immunity to landowners who open land to public at no charge for recreational use while not extending liability to landowners who charge fee to access land; classification was rationally related to legislative purpose to promote free use of land for recreational purposes.

Lonergan v. May (App. W.D. 2001) 53 S.W.3d 122

-Portion of lake where boat accident occurred did not fall under “noncovered land” exception to the Recreational Use Act (RUA), and thus electric utility company that owned lake had immunity against negligence action by relatives of boat passenger killed when boat collided with dock on lake, although another portion of the lake was used by company for commercial purposes, where part of lake where commercial activity was carried on was far from accident site, company opened lake to public free of charge for recreational purposes, and passengers came to lake intending to use it free of charge for recreational purposes.
-In enacting Recreational Use Act (RUA), legislature meant to protect lake owners from liability when accidents occur on the lake by those who are engaging in boating activities, water sports or any other “pleasure” on the water.

Fields v. Henrich (App. W.D. 2006) 208 S.W.3d 353

-Recreational Land Use Act (RUA) did not apply to action brought against landowners by parents, whose child was visiting landowners' neighbor and wandered off and subsequently was found unconscious in sewage pond located on landowners' property and later died, and therefore, submission of verdict directing instructions consistent with RUA was erroneous; landowners' property was an eight-acre residential lot, they maintained unfenced sewage aeration pond at front of their property, and they did not allow their front yard or any part of their lot, including pond, to be used for recreational purposes.

Henderson v. U.S., C.A.8 (Mo.)1992, 965 F.2d 1488

Genuine issue of material fact, as to whether release of water through dam was ultrahazardous activity, precluded summary judgment on issue of whether Army Corps of Engineers negligently failed to guard or warn against “ultrahazardous condition” within meaning of Missouri Recreational Use Statute.