"Keeping the public on public lands & waters"


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

Donate via PayPal


"The mission of PLWA is to maintain, restore, and perpetuate public access to the boundaries of all Montana public land and waters."

Seyler Lane Update

Seyler Bridge Easement - More Than Just RecreationIt has been over a decade that PLWA (formerly known as PLAAI) has been involved in a lawsuit over public access to the Ruby River from Seyler Lane and the Seyler Bridge, a county road right-of-way in Madison County. In January 2014, the Montana Supreme Court reaffirmed Montana's Stream Access law, clarifying that the public may use the entirety of the public prescriptive easement right-of-way for all lawful public purposes. It also remanded the Ruby River action back to the District Court to determine the "definite width of a single, unified" public road right-of-way that was not determined at the previous trial. Per the Supreme Court, the width must include whatever land is "reasonably necessary" to maintain and support the established public road and bridge and the land that has historically been used by the public. This was a great victory for PLWA and the public.Previously in the lawsuit, when the District Court initially determined that Madison County held a wider and independent "secondary easement" than the public's right to the paved road, Madison County was all for "wider". Madison County stated it had an "uncontroverted" prescriptive right to maintain "the subjacent and lateral support for Seyler Land and Seyler Bridge, together with such additional land as is reasonable and necessary for maintenance and repair", which includes the "bridge abutments, wing walls and bridge spans.   ... (more)

Click map pins for Issue details.

take action

West Deer Creek Rd. Now Open!

Big Timber, Montana - On Wednesday, July 15, at 9:00 a.m. the gate barring public access to the West Deer Creek area of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest south of Big Timber swung open - thus restoring road access to more than 16,000 acres of public lands.   ... (more)

This Land is Your Land

The idea has been around for a while now, dating back to the Nevada-based Sage Brush Rebellion of the 1980s. Like a lot of bad ideas, it can be dressed up to look good at first glance: Get those vast, "mismanaged" tracts of western public land out of the hands of the distant, incompetent federal government and into the hands of people who know how to use it right. However, in its current iteration the push to disburse these federal lands represents a greater threat to the future of American hunting than anything the anti-hunters could have come up with in their wildest dreams.   ... (more)

Transfer of public land to the State of Montana

It doesn't take much for certain groups and individuals to jump on the “Fantasy Wagon”. Like with so many of these situations, some believe the fantasy and others use it for political advantage. Does anyone really think the citizens of the United States, who own these lands, are going to allow a small state like Montana to take control of a huge chunk of their National Forest and other public ;property?   ... (more)

All Montanans hurt by privatizing public land

Unwise suggestion To recent news articles advocating state takeover of public land, the only phrase that applies is “horse pucky.” Many groups have been involved in this issue since former secretaries of the Interior James Watt and Gayle Norton inspired the “Sagebrush Rebellion” more than two decades ago. Turning over our public land didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen now.   ... (more)

public land news

Bullwhacker Road - Big Development
( 10/30/2014 )   BLM Press Release - September 26, 2014 BLM starts process to restore Bullwhacker access with by-pass (LEWISTOWN, Mont.) - The Bureau of Land Management announced today, it has begun the process required to reestablish road access into the Bullwhacker Coulee area of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Modesty Gulch Road - Major Victory
( 10/07/2014 )   Butte Montana -Tuesday - October 7, 2014 . In the latest episode of a long running dispute, Butte District Judge Kurt Krueger found that roads leading to both the lower and upper branches of the Modesty Road remain "dedicated to public use.

Sand In The Wheels of Justice
( 09/09/2014 )   Here we go again. After 10 years of litigation , and a clear decision by the Montana Supreme Court , that Montanan's have right to access rivers and streams from public roads, Madison county has thrown some sand in wheels of justice.

Boadle Road - Victory Over Arrogance
( 07/01/2014 )   After fourteen years PLWA found itself in court in Choteau Montana on June 16, 2014. The Boadle Road had been closed that long ago by a new owner even after being told that the road had been used as a public road for nearly a hundred years.

know your rights

Caveat and Disclaimer
( 11/28/2008 )   Information on this site is provided as a matter of information and education only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel .

( 12/16/2007 )   If you encounter a closed road or trail ( which is obviously not a federal highway , a state highway, or a city street ) and you believe it may be a legally accessible road, here are some things you can do to check it out :FIRST, is it in a National Forest ? If so check with the Regional Forester office to see if a private easement or fee tile exists.

public land issues

Tenderfoot Acquisition Advances
Tenderfoot Acquisition AdvancesThis is truly one of the most significant public access actions by a government agency - working with private entities - of all time.

Sixteenmile Creek
Updated June 1,2013Efforts underway since 2006 to acquire 5 miles of railroad right-of-way stretching west from Ringling along Sixteen mile Creek, and accessing an otherwise isolated section of DNRC land for another mile, are now nearing conclusion.

Teton County Road No. 380 -
Old County Road No. 380 - "Salmond Ranch Road "PLWA, has been very involved with this .

Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
PLWA officers and President John Gibson have been active in advocating for this major access opening to both public land and water in central Montana.

    14 more public land issues

Public Access Objectives

  • Educating and informing the public on their ownership and access rights.
  • Monitoring public access routes and identifying access problems.
  • Initiating legal action when access has been illegally blocked.
  • Monitoring public land sales exchanges, and purchases to insure that no transfers are made without full consideration of conservation and recreational values.
  • Initiating programs and policies to expand public land and water access.
  • Pursuing every legal and ethical avenue to protect and maintain your access to public lands and waters.

What can PLWA Do For You?

Primarily we help hunters, anglers, and other recreationists fight back against the tide of privatization of public land and waters. Montana is changing and part of this change comes from outside interests who think they can grab “ownership” of a river or public land with "No Trespassing" signs, orange paint, barb wire, chains, lawsuits, legislation and other tactics. It takes an organization with “pit bull” mentality like PLWA to deal with these situations. In many cases we are the ones who initiate appropriate legal action and are on the firing line.

PLWA is an all volunteer organization with little overhead. Your donations are almost totally used to press the issue of maintaining access. Member contributions are our only source of income. Usually the deep pockets are on the other side.

We hope you'll take a moment today to join us in our mission to retain the traditional value of access to the public landscapes which make Montana such a special place.

Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA, is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.

Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice. Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.
      PLWA.ORG   -   Public Land & Water Association