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

Boadle Road - Victory Over Arrogance

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.PLWA had taken the landowner to court four times and won every time. In fact, at the last trial the Montana Supreme Court had instructed the landowner to not do anything to interfere with the public easement on this Boadle Road.He chose to ignore the court so PLWA filed a civil case against him and ask a jury of his peers to determine from the evidence presented if he has engaged in the following activities:Violated a court orderCreated a nuisanceActed with maliceTook actions that resulted in his being subject to paying damagesIf so, what would the type and amount of those damages On the third day the jury found in favor on all counts and instructed the landowner to pay the following damages:Damages causing the public to be unable to use the road for fourteen years; $375,000Damages inflicted on PLWA: $25,000Punitive Damages: $10,000We were very satisfied with the results even though most of the $375,000 will have to pay for replacing a bridge across a canal.One of the good results of this trial will be the precedent it sets. It might cause others to think twice before closing roads that the public have used for decades as part of the county road system.   ... (more)

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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)

PLWA Annual Meeting Covered in Flathead Beacon

"Out Of Bounds" By Rob Breeding, 05-07-14 Who's Got Next?Last week I joined in a celebration at the headwaters of the Missouri River. There, at Headwaters State Park, where the Mighty Mo' begins, supporters of Montana's Stream Access Law celebrated their latest victory: the Montana Supreme Court's decision to overturn a District Court ruling that prevented access to the Ruby River.   ... (more)

Durfee Hills Land Exchange

John GibsonPLWA PresidentI am disturbed by the Wilks brothers’ coercive tactics to gain ownership of the Durfee Hills.No state or federal agency, including the BLM, should negotiate with a gun at its head. The Wilks brothers have no apparent reason to block access to 50,000 acres of public land with armed guards on the Bullwacker Road other than to coerce the BLM into giving up public ownership of the Durfee Hills.   ... (more)

public land news

Lilly Pad Trail dedicated
( 07/03/2014 )   On July 3 , 2014 approximately 60 people gathered atop a crest of the mile-long trail to dedicate it in the memory of Ernie Strum, a longtime Red Lodge resident . This recently created trail to Lilly Pad and Crater lakes has been a 15 year effort on the part of local folks and various government agencies - most notably the Beartooth Backcountry Horsemen.

The Seventh Inning Stretch
( 03/27/2014 )   By George BauerPublic Land/Water Access Association DirectorKennedy requests rehearing and Supreme court says no !If the Bridges of Madison County saga on the Ruby River was a baseball game then we would be at the seventh inning stretch.

( 04/04/2014 )   One more victory for PLWA - As you may recall, James Cox Kennedy requested a rehearing of the January Montana Supreme Court decision in the Seyler Lane bridge case. This was the case which effectively settled the issue of stream access at prescriptive road bridges and reaffirmed the stream access law.

Sportsmen oppose land exchange
( 03/17/2014 )   Reprinted with Permission from the LEWISTOWN NEWS-ARGUS March 15, 2014“This Land Is Our Land”Central Montana Sportsmen petition to kibosh land exchangeEnough is enough.That is how many Central Montana sportsmen feel about a pair of land exchanges in Central Montana.

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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