Immediate harm to Montana's citizens who seek to hunt, fish, and recreate on public lands…Thankfully, in 2012, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock utilized something little known by the public who votes for our attorney generals – a Montana law that not only gives an Attorney General the right, but the duty to act on behalf of the citizens of Montana. Bullock filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief on October 12, 2012 against Howard Zehntner and Zehntner Brothers, LLC. As a result, the State of Montana just won an important access case and the public now has guaranteed public access on Tenderfoot Road, which leads to public State DNRC and US Forest Service lands in the Little Belt Mountains, including the Tenderfoot Legacy Project, known as the Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Acquisition, which placed more than 8,200 acres of private ranch land into public ownership.The Montana law that AG Bullock referenced in his introduction, giving him not only the right, but the duty to act, was MCA 2-15-501 (6), which states, “when required by the public service or directed by the governor, to assist the county attorney of any county in the discharge of the county attorney's duties or to prosecute or defend appropriate cases in which the state or any officer of the state in the officer's official capacity is a party or in which the state has an interest.” The issue needing prosecution was an illegal access violation of a public access county road, the Tenderfoot Road. Howard Zehntner, a landowner who purchased land with the Tenderfoot Road running through part of it, is a registered, licensed hunting outfitter with Montana's Department of Labor & Industry. Some of his land borders or is surrounded by State DNRC and US Forest Service lands. ... (more)
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INTERESTING DETAILS ON SPECIFIC ACCESS ISSUES CAN BE OBTAINED BY CLICKING ON THE LOCATION BUBBLES OR "PINS" ABOVE. JUST TRY IT !
There's some misinformation floating around this election cycle, some candidate co-opting of the stream access issue, as well as some general lack of understanding of how Montana achieved some of our recreational access. We didn't have it handed to us on a silver platter, it was fought for and at times paid for by some key individuals who were passionate about access. We thought it a good time to shine a light on some truths, otherwise, we could be looking at an “Access” Ground Hogs Day in our future. ... (more)
“The time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things”. We in the Public Land Access Association (PLWA) say, “OK let’s speak about roads.”As the reader might know, our organization has been dealing with road and trail access to public land and water for over thirty years. ... (more)
Mr. Dale Hall November 20, 2015Chief Executive OfficerDucks UnlimitedOne Waterfowl WayMemphis, TN 38120Dear Mr. HallI am president of the Montana Public Land and Water Access Association, PLWA. ... (more)
Montanas big game herds have become big business. Several properties now advertise a hunt for bull elk at $15,000. It might include a trespass fee or a guided hunt but the elk is the product. ... (more)
public land news
Ruby River Stream Access Victory ( 07/01/2016 )
7/1/2016PLWA, once again, has been victorious in the battle for the public's stream access on the Ruby River, from the Seyler Lane Bridge, likely the original stagecoach route from Salt Lake City, north to Virginia City and Helena.It 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 public prescriptive easement right-of-way in Madison County.
"Dark Money" Brought to Light ( 07/01/2016 )
The June-July, Newscasts section of Fly Fisherman reported on the recent investigation by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, into a dark money campaign that could overturn Montana's Stream Access.Fly Fisherman recounted the Montana Growth Network's campaign contributions to District Judge Laurie McKinnon's run for our Montana Supreme Court.
Swimming Woman County Road Update ( 09/01/2015 )
Swimming Woman Road provides one of the few access points to the south side of Big Snowy Mountains and is popular route for public hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. The public's right to access the road has had to be fought for in 2008, 2011 and again in 2015.
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 .
WHAT IS A PUBLIC ROAD ? ( 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.
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.
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.