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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."

The Seventh Inning Stretch

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. This historic case was filed in 2004 and was finally heard after eight years of early inning maneuvering. The score was PLWA - 2, Media Mogul - 0 when James Cox Kennedy was ordered to remove his “No Trespassing” signs from Duncan Road and Lewis Lane. The ruling reinforced Montana’s 2009 Bridge Access Law which says a public road right of way extends the full width of the road and over the bridge to a stream’s high-water mark. That law, passed after much compromise between anglers and landowners to help gain public access to public waters, came on the third try and only after lots of hard work. Before the hearing the parties (PLWA v.   ... (more)

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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)

East Rosebud Fly Shop Support

East Rosebud Fly Shop1314 24TH Street WestBillings MT 59102 Feb 18, 2014Richard,The purpose of this letter is to thank you for your very generous contribution to the Public Land and Water Access Association. The $1,647.00, representing the proceeds from the events you held at your shop, will go a long way toward the effort to keep our public land and water available to all who wish to enjoy them.   ... (more)

Two Recent Donations

Montana Trout Unlimited recently donated $10,000.00 to PLWA to assist us in the ongoing Ruby River access case. While we had hoped that the Supreme Court decision would be the end of it, the Supreme Court remanded the issue of the width of the prescriptive easement back to District Court.   ... (more)

Big Win for Montana Anglers

The recent ruling by the Montana Supreme Court upholding our state’s stream access law and the ability of everyone to get to streams from county roads is a victory of all Montanans and all who enjoys our public waters. It also illustrates the stark difference of views about who should get to enjoy public land and water.The case, (Public Access v.   ... (more)

public land news

( 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.

Wilks Brothers land exchange controversy
( 03/02/2014 )   Petition seeks to halt land exchange between BLM, Texas billionairesSome Montana advocates of public lands access seem to be in no mood to negotiate with Texas billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks over land exchange or access deals in central and north-central Montana.Petitions are circulating asking the Bureau of Land Management’s state director to halt any talks about an exchange that would give the Wilkses possession of a landlocked parcel called the Durfee Hills, surrounded by their N Bar Ranch south of Lewistown, and to build a road around the Wilks’ Anchor Ranch in Blaine County to access 50,000 acres of BLM lands in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Resounding Victory In Montana Supreme Court
( 01/16/2014 )   On January 16, 2014 the Montana Supreme Court overturned a lower court and assured public access to the Ruby River from bridges on land owned by Atlanta media mogul James Cox Kennedy. The decision sets a precedent that validates all Montana stream and bridge access laws.

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