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Ruby River Stream Access Victory

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.In PLWA's January 2014 victory, 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.   more
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Madison County / Seyler Lane

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"Dark Money" Brought to Light

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. Motl found, "a mere 14 donors donated a total of $978,000 to the cause.   more

Boadle Road Settled After 15 Years of Litigation

Nov. 15, 2015On October 15th the Montana Supreme Court delivered a stunning 8 to 1 decision Boadle Decision in favor of PLWA in a case that has been around for 15 years. The court ruled that the defendant, a Mr.   more
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Boadle Road - 2003 -2010
June 2010 Hearing
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Swimming Woman County Road Update

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.In 2011, flooding damaged the road to the extent that it was impassable.   more
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Swimming Woman Road Settlement (2011)
County Successful
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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
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
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Bullwhacker Road - Big Development

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."We are currently investigating four separate alternatives, to reestablish road access into the Bullwhacker drainage, using portions of existing roads whenever possible.   more
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Bullwhacker Road (2011)
COURT OVERRULES COUNTY ATTY
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Modesty Gulch Road - Major Victory

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." Modesty road connects to about 12,000 acres of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and a number of otherwise difficult-to- access lakes .   more

Sand In The Wheels of Justice

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. To refresh the readers' memory, in the last 10 years PLWA won court cases and helped pass legislation that solidified the right of recreational stream access from county roads .   more

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.   more
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Boadle Road - 2003 -2010
June 2010 Hearing
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Lilly Pad Trail dedicated

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. Billings Gazette Story New Beartooth trail to be dedicated in honor of volunteerIt’s fitting that a new trail providing access to a section of state land and two lakes along the base of the Beartooth Mountains will be dedicated on the eve of the Fourth of July, said Ron Nusbaum.   more
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Lilly Pad and Crater Lakes - July 2014
Beautiful Lakes on School Trust Land
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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.   more
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Madison County / Seyler Lane

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SUPREME COURT DENYS KENNEDY REHEARING

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. On march 6th the court found no merit in the legal argument that it had retroactively overturned case law in regard to prescriptive easements and that it had overlooked other significant arguments of Kennedy.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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PLANNED GIFTS

PLANNED GIFTSGiving Generously Tomorrow Takes Nothing Away From Living Well Today ! What Is Planned Giving? Planned giving allows donors to maintain access to income during their lifetimes, provides estate and tax planning tools, and builds permanent wealth for PLWA .   more

Sportsmen oppose land exchange

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.Texas billionaire David Killam’s proposed land exchange with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation that surfaced last month may have been withdrawn, but another land exchange possibility looms that has some hunting enthusiasts concerned.   more
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Bullwhacker Road (2011)
COURT OVERRULES COUNTY ATTY
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Wilks Brothers land exchange controversy

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.Rumors have circulated in the region for two years about deals the BLM and Wilks brothers have discussed to come to an agreement, but since no formal proposal has been made, the process hasn’t been open to any public scrutiny or comment.   more
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Bullwhacker Road (2011)
COURT OVERRULES COUNTY ATTY
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Resounding Victory In Montana Supreme Court

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. The Court affirmed a previous decision that two of the county road bridges - Duncan Road and Lewis Lane - have a 60-foot wide public easement intersecting the high water mark of the river.   more

The giants of the stream access struggle

February 12, 2014 We can all thank the Montana Supreme Court for their reaffirmation of the Montana Stream Access public trust law of 1985. One of the earliest stream trust actions was on Oct. 10, 1980, when Russ Kipp was accused of trespass by landowner Lowell Hildreth (with a rifle), standing on his illegal bridge over the Beaverhead River.   more

Utah Stream Access Coalition

Utah Stream Access Coalition: Support HB37 – Protecting Public Water & Property Rights!In the state of Utah, it is against the law for the public to recreate (fish, wade, etc.) in public waters that are adjacent to private property.   more

Legislature Studies Federal Land Takeover

Here is a strange deal. See the Billings Gazette Story linked below " Panel discusses state ownership of federal land .Spirited discussions took place in the capitol Wednesday on whether Montana should attempt to wrest ownership of public lands from the federal government..   more

Cherry Creek Road Project Makes Progress

The Yellowstone District of the US Forest Service has just released the Draft Environmental Assessment ("EA") for the construction of the "Cherry Creek Road" leading into the Deer Creek area of the forest south of Big Timber. Although the proposed road is only a mile and a half long, it is a big deal as it connects with the road being built by the landowner, opens up about 16,000 acres of the national forest, and has been in contention for over 17 years. The new route will be called West Deer Creek Road No.   more

WHAT MEMBERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT PLWA

WHAT MEMBERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT PUBLIC LAND / WATER ACCESS ASSOCIATIONThe results of a mid 2013 PLWA member survey showed just how much they appreciate the organization and what it does. Here are some of the representative comments: “Our public lands are what make this a great state. I would have left after high school but even though Montana has low wages, it offers a wealth of outdoor experiences.   more

Tax Incentives For State Land Access

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would offer tax incentives to private landowners who provide public access to state lands. The proposed rule is in response to a new law that established the Unlocking State Lands Program. Under the program, landowners can receive a $500 tax credit by providing public access to a parcel of state land through contractual agreements with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.   more

State , Letterman ranch reach agreement on dispute

CBS “Late Show” host David Letterman won’t be getting involved in a road dispute in Montana, where he owns a ranch.Members of the State Land Board voted unanimously Monday to approve an easement and disclaimer of interest agreement between the state and Teton County and Deep Creek Ranch, which Letterman owns.The agreement won’t resolve the disputed road case, which involves a different ranch owner, not Deep Creek, but it will simplify it by reducing the number of parties involved, said John Tubbs, director of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.   more
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Teton County Road No. 380 -
County set for fight over county road
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The New Dangerous Ignorance About Public Lands

Field and Stream The Conservationist Blog - October 04, 2013The New Dangerous Ignorance of American Public LandsBy Hal HerringAs would-be pontiffs pontificate about the shutdown, and ideologues of the left and right declare the end of America, some federal employees are going about some very serious business. You and I and Aunt Millicent are barred from visiting our National Parks and our federal wildlife refuges (that we paid for with our duck stamp money), and in Montana, more than 12,000 public lands managers, biologists, clerks and outhouse technicians are worrying about car payments while they are hunting ducks, watching Netflix, or trying to close in to archery distance with a big bull elk. But the government shutdown is no forced vacation for those who care nothing for America’s hunting and fishing heritage.   more

Old Dunn Road

The Old Dunn Road is now a trail but it provides access to a mile and a half of the upper Yellowstone River near Emigrant, Montana. Other roads on different locations now serve the purpose once provided by the Old Dunn. road.   more

Elk foundation's land buy

A 40-acre acquisition by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will improve access to nearly 18,000 acres of national forest public land in the Big and Little Snowy mountains.The property contains a 30-foot common boundary with a corner piece of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.“This is a big win for hunters and other members of the public because there was realistically no easy way to reach this part of the Snowys,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.   more

This Land isYour Land

This Land Is Your LandBy Joshua Bergan, Montana Sporting Journal(If you like this go to www.montanasportingjournal.com and subscribe.   more

Landowner uses congressional ties to sway Forest S

LAURA LUNDQUIST, Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer - August 12, 2013 BIG SKY — When a Texas millionaire built his 8,000-square-foot log home here, he placed it on or near a road that hikers, bikers and skiers had used for decades to access Forest Service land and the Spanish Peaks Wilderness. Since 1966, the U.S.   more

Great Outdoors Business Opportunities

Gazette opinion: Montana embraces business opportunities in great outdoorsSeptember 27, 2013 12:00 amMontanans have long known the allure that lies just outside their front doors. Our more than 100 mountain ranges, two major national parks, rugged badlands, wildlife refuges, rich river valleys and coldwater lakes draw hundreds of thousands of us into outdoor recreation every year.It stands to reason that our great outdoors are thus a major economic driver.   more

Lodgepole Creek Road Opened

In 2009 the Lodgepole creek road leading to thousands of acres on the West side of the Absaroka range was opened by Stillwater county . However, and sadly , the road was washed out in the 2011 flood. After a year hiatus during which funds were generated from FEMA,and other sources, work was completed and the road reopened in time for the 2013 hunting season.   more
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Lodgepole Creek Road (2013)
Lodgepole Rd.- Myers Creek Ranger Station Stillwater County
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SETTLEMENT ON CHERRY CREEK ROAD

JUNE 2013 -SETTLEMENT REACHED ON "CHERRY CREEK" ROAD YEARS OF PLWA EFFORT PAY OFF OUTSTANDING COOPERATION BY FOREST SERVICE AND LANDOWNERS After years of negotiations, legal action , and public comment, settlement has been reached on regaining permanent access via a new public access route to National Forest System lands in the Cherry Creek area, south of Big Timber, Montana. The landowners Mr. George Matelich and Mr.   more
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
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Illegal Signs on Fiddle Creek Bridge Down

On the Ground Action by PLWA Volunteers Last year about this time one of our members driving over the Shields river Fiddle Creek Bridge noticed a whole lot of orange paint and a bunch of nasty signs. (The Shields is a classic small trout stream in the Livingston area.) He took a few pictures and sent them on to members in Livingston.   more
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Fiddle Creek - Shields River
Illegal Signs Removed
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TO THOSE WHO VALUE STREAM ACCESS IN MONTANA

TO THOSE WHO VALUE STREAM ACCESS IN MONTANA "My client not only owns the land under the Ruby River in Montana. He owns the water in the river and the air above it. So, no member of the public has the right to be on the river running through Mr.   more
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Madison County / Seyler Lane

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Kennedy Attacks Stream Access

Kennedy uses Seyler Lane case to attack stream access. Agenda laid bare in oral arguments. Is the Montana constitution unconstitutional ?   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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PLWA Sets Up Stream Access Defense Fund

PLWA Sets Up Bridge / Stream Access Defense FundDang ! We have to ask for money again. In April of 2012 Madison County district Judge Loren Tucker ruled against PLWA in a case about a Seyler Lane road bridge - a "prescriptive" county road - a road created by public use rather than a formal process.   more

John Gibson on Seyler Lane

In Montana, water belongs to the publicThe recent Montana Supreme Court hearing in Bozeman contained the following claim by an attorney representing James Cox Kennedy in reference to the water in the Ruby River running through his ranch.His attorney claimed that the landowner not only owns the land under the river but the river itself as well as the air above the river.He was immediately challenged by one of the justices who asked if he believed that the definition of water ownership in the Montana Constitution was unconstitutional.   more
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Madison County / Seyler Lane

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A river runs through Cox land

Creative Loafing AtlantaA river runs through Cox land And the AJC's (Atlanta Journal Constitution) boss fights for billionaires' right to steal public land and water in Montana by John F. SuggWay out west, the mountains are towering and the sky is big and blue. It's God's country, where men are men and women are women, a darn good arrangement.   more
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Bridge Access Bill Passed in 2009
An Important Part of Stream Access
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Montana TU Joins in Bridge Access Action

Montana Trout Unlimited has officially recognized the importance of PLWA litigation on the Seyler Lane bridge portion of the Madison County lawsuit . They will be filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Montana Supreme Court. The very excellent announcement article from their Trout Line summer newsletter very succinctly and accurately describes the situation and tells why they made the decision.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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UPOM and PERC Join Fight Against Stream Access

By NICK GEVOCK Montana StandardBUTTE - Conservative property rights groups and conservation organizations have become involved in the bitter, eight-year legal fight over access to Montana streams from bridges.Two conservative groups - the United Property Owners of Montana and the Political Economy Research Center - have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case between a sportsmen’s group and Madison County. In addition, Montana Trout Unlimited has entered the fray on the other side to support the Public Lands Access Association in the case.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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Who says no electric fences on the Ruby ?

WHO SAYS THERE WERE NO ELECTRIC FENCES ON THE RUBY ? !In recent days there have been op eds in various papers saying the James Cox Kennedy never used electric fences on the Ruby .   more

Opening the gate - Modesty Road -April 2012

PLWA pioneer Tony Schoonen has done it again. With the help of PLWA affiliated Anaconda Sportsman and Skyline Sportsman Clubs, Schoonen took action to open a road closed for decades. As we understand it, Tony lead the effort to research road history and keep the issue in front of the Anaconda -Deer Lodge commissioners .   more

Salmond Ranch Road - Key Access to Rocky Mountain

Salmond Ranch Road - Key Access to Rocky Mountain Front The Salmond Ranch road or Teton county road 380 goes up the Deep Creek drainage and connects to trails into the Rocky Mountain Front . It is one of the few access points into the front between Augusta and Glacier Park. The initial portion of the 3 mile road goes through the Salmond Ranch, then through the school sections which abut BLM and National Forest land .   more
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Rocky Mountain Front Roads
Goldman Sachs Exec Blocks Access Roads
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Illegal Signs - Fiddle Creek Bridge

From President John Gibson Folks, These photos are of the Fiddle creek bridge crossing the Shields River outside of Livingston Montana. The road is clearly a County Road and the bridge was probably constructed by the state. Any way, as you can see, there are several signs within the 60 foot right of way indicating that there is no legal access to the river.   more

MAJOR VICTORY IN MONTANA SUPREME COURT

MAJOR VICTORY IN MONTANA SUPREME COURTBOADLE ROAD BRIDGE CASE February 2013In a not so surprising decision, the highest court in Montana has held for PLWA in a case where a landowner, Jones, used every legal and illegal maneuver to keep a public road closed - including tearing out a bridge. PLWA beat him in the Montana Supreme Court repeatedly, but he just keeps coming back with one illegal action after another, and one appeal after another. Finally, the court has, in effect, said enough is enough and sent the case back to District Court for final resolution of damages and court ordered action on the part of the landowner.   more

Corner Crossing Rally -

Associated Press - 2/19/2013HELENA – The Montana House on Monday rejected a plan that aimed to give hunters and others access at “corner crossings” to public land that is intermingled with private land in a checkerboard pattern.Hunters and advocacy groups packed the chamber in support of the measure, seeking access to patches of government land that meet at corners. Supporters of House Bill 235 said denying access at such corners ensures that mega-land owners like Ted Turner can lock up blocks of public land.   more

Survey: Public land aids state

GREAT FALLS TRIBUNEFebruary 8, 2013 Montanans asked about wide open spaces Survey: Public land aids stateBy Erin Madison Tribune Staff Writer and The Associated Press Montanans place a high value on public land, according to a poll Thursday by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project.Ninety-one percent of voters in Montana say public lands are an essential part of the state’s economy, according to the survey, 72 percent believe public lands support the economy, provide recreation opportunities and enhance quality of life, rather than being a fiscal burden and preventing creation of jobs.The majority of voters in the six Western states covered in the survey — Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — agreed, with 79 percent saying public lands support the economy and enhance the quality of life in their state.   more

AG files suit on Tenderfoot road

Hot Topic - AG files suit on Tenderfoot road 10/14/2012PLWA President John Gibson calls attention to the action of Attorney General Steve Bullock to file a civil complaint against the landowner who placed locked gates across the South fork of Tenderfoot County Road in Meagher County. He has asked the court for an injunction to keep the road opened during the legal proceedings. Gibson said "Attorney General, Steve Bullock has brought the A.   more

NEW GATE ON TENDERFOOT ROAD

August t 2012 . Here is a new development on the Tenderfoot land acquisition and Tenderfoot road situation. The Tenderfoot Road (#6424) is the primary access road to the 8000 acre public access acquisition.   more
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Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
8,200 Acre Public Land Access Opportunity
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PLWA appeals Seyler Lane ruling

THE MONTANA STANDARDPosted: Friday, June 1, 2012By Nick Gevock of The Montana Standard | A sportsmen’s group has appealed an April ruling by a judge that limits public access to streams from bridges on roads with historic prescriptive easements.That same ruling, by Madison County District Judge Loren Tucker, has also prompted a fresh challenge to a law passed three years ago by the Legislature that guaranteed access to streams from bridges on most county roads.The Public Lands Access Association filed its appeal this week in Virginia City district court of an April ruling by Tucker in a case that has dragged on for eight years.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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HOLMGREN FISHING ACCESS SITE

In yet another sterling effort by the stalwart staff of Region 5 Fish Wildlife and Parks , a critically needed fishing access site on the Yellowstone River between Reed Point and Columbus is now complete. It is about 6 miles upstream from Columbus and 6 miles downstream from the access at "twin bridges" on the Yellowstone. (Twin bridges is an informal access site located where the interstate crosses the river.   more

Public Lands Are Good For Business

Public lands are good for businessBy Alex Philp and Lance Trebesch, HELENA INDEPENDENT RECORD Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Public lands are a vital piece of the relationship between a healthy, innovative economy, a healthy landscape and vibrant, diverse communities. Business innovation and conservation priorities are not mutually exclusive or competing pieces of Montana’s economy, and Montanans should not be asked to choose between landscape and innovation. Rather, they should be encouraged to support public lands as an asset to our economy.   more

Tenderfoot Landowner Barriers State Land

Attorney General Takes Action For several years now the U.S. Forest Service, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Tenderfoot Trust, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust, together with significant funding from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, have been negotiating the purchase of private lands in the Tenderfoot Creek drainage north of White Sulphur Springs.   more
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Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
8,200 Acre Public Land Access Opportunity
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ROAD EASEMENT - ACCESS TO CUSTER FOREST

ROAD EASEMENT SECURES ACCESS TO CUSTER NATIONAL FORESTA cooperative effort involving a private landowner, the U.S. Forest Service, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has secured an important public access route to thousands of acres of national forest system land in southeastern Montana.   more

FWP “ACCESS PUBLIC LANDS” PROGRAM

MONTANA FWP “ACCESS PUBLIC LANDS” PROGRAM – JUNE 2012Program Title: Access Public Lands (formerly called Access Montana) Program Coordinator: Alan CharlesProgram Authorizing Statute: MCA 87-1-265 Hunter management and hunting access enhancement program created. The department may establish…programs of landowner assistance that encourage public access to private and public lands for purposes of hunting and may adopt rules to carry out program purposes. Program Funding:Source: Portions of license fees funding the Hunting Access Enhancement Program Come Home to Hunt license revenue (new in 2010 (FY11) – 4-year sunset FY10 Program Allocation: $25,000 Access Public Lands coordinates FWP agency activities related to hunting access on public lands.   more

Boadle Road - Supreme Court again

April 11, 2012As readers and members are no doubt aware , the Boadle Road in Teton County has been an endless saga of the associated landowner losing round after round in the courts and defying court rulings. The latest deal was that he tore out a bridge on a public right of way. PLWA action to sue for punitive damages, and reconstruction of the offending bridge went to initial stages of trial on March 7, 2012.   more
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Boadle Road - 2003 -2010
June 2010 Hearing
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Seyler Lane - Adverse Ruling

Madison County Lawsuit - Seyler Lane Portion - Adverse RulingStrange Legal Theory AdvancedHeaded to Montana Supreme Court - PLWA appeals - Kennedy cross appeals In a finding of April 15, 2012 Judge Loren Tucker of the 5th Judicial District Court of Madison County ruled against PLWA. The court held the prescriptive easement for the road was in effect, two easements - one a public easement for just the road surface itself and a secondary easement of the full 60 feet for repair and maintenance. Thus, there would be no recreational legal access at bridges on prescriptive roads if this ruling holds.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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Tenderfoot Creek Land Acquisition

A tremendous opportunity exists in Montana. The Bair Ranch Foundation, a philanthropic Montana foundation, is offering 8,220 acres of its private lands near the Smith River for permanent public access and enjoyment, and to conserve natural resources and traditional land uses. Up to this point, the Foundation has chosen not to sell the property to private parties, since that action may jeopardize public access to thousands of acres of intermingled National Forest lands.   more
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Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
8,200 Acre Public Land Access Opportunity
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Montana's public lands help drive job growth

Montana’s public lands help drive job growth, report says Headwaters Economics recently released a report correlating the growth of the state's economy with its high percentage of federally protected lands. By TRISTAN SCOTT of the MissoulianWHITEFISH – For more than a century, Montana's wide open spaces have driven the statewide economy, but the value of the land is shifting from an extractive resource to a geographic grail.Or so says a diverse panel of business leaders assembled by a Bozeman-based research group, Headwaters Economics, which recently released a report correlating the growth of the state's economy with its high percentage of federally protected lands.   more

Big Fishing Business Confirm - Access Crucial

OUTDOOR LIFE - Open Roads BlogMay 04, 2012 Big Fishing Business Confirm That Access is Crucial by Ben LambI spent a good portion of the afternoon today listening to some High Tech business owners and the CEO of Simms Fishing Products talk about the importance of public lands to their businesses.After we got through the mush about corporate tax rates and capital gains taxes, there was a lot of discussion about access -- access to public lands, and stream access in particular.KC Walsh, CEO of Simms Fishing Products, said flat out that access to rivers and streams is critical for their business model.   more

Fiscal Year 2012 LWCF Purchases

April 6, 2012 Here is the list of Montana land purchases for the national forest system with $41.6 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund announced Friday April 6,2012.— Legacy Completion, Lolo and Flathead National Forests: Protects watersheds, wildlife habitat and public access to outdoor recreation in and around the Crown of the Continent.   more
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Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
8,200 Acre Public Land Access Opportunity
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Boadle Road Goes To Court Again 01/04/2012

As readers and members are no doubt aware , the Boadle Road in Teton County has been an endless saga of the associated landowner losing round after round in the courts and defying court rulings. The latest deal was that he tore out a bridge on a public right of way. PLWA action to sue for punitive damages, and reconstruction of the offending bridge went to initial stages of trial on March 7.   more
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Boadle Road - Nov 30 2010
Court Action Goes On
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Tenderfoot Creek Land Purchase & Road Closure

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. This is both by John's advancement of funding through his position on the the "Canyon Ferry Trust" advisory board, lobbying for funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and working with Attorney General Bullock in regard to action on the closed gate. (Yup, it is a complex situation but don't give up - read on for more information.   more
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Tenderfoot Creek Area Land Purchase
8,200 Acre Public Land Access Opportunity
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Utah Ruling Advances Public Trust Doctrine

Utah ruling advances access to public waters crossing private land Restriction Provo River case still faces lawsuit over the validity of controversial law. By Brian Maffly| The Salt Lake TribuneFirst Published Mar 26 2013 01:01 amA 4th District judge has rejected much of the state's legal reasoning defending a 2010 law that restricts public access to rivers crossing private land, ruling that the public trust doctrine protects recreational use of public waters.In other words, the state has a constitutional duty to manage such a resource for the public's benefit, Judge Derek Pullan ruled in a case that could have far-reaching significance and will likely be ultimately decided in the Utah Supreme Court.   more

Rocky Mountain Front Access Imperiled

The article below from the Choteau Acantha newspaper describes in part what is going on with several roads leading to the Rocky Mountain Front in Teton county. PLWA, although not cited in the article, has been very involved with this . John Gibson and folks from the Russell Country Sportsmen, have made several trips to the location.   more
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Rocky Mountain Front Roads
Goldman Sachs Exec Blocks Access Roads
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SEYLER LANE CASE TRIAL - JANUARY 2012

SEYLER LANE CASE TRIAL PROCEEDSJanuary 22,2012The Seyler Lane portion of the Madison County Lawsuit was heard in early January of 2012 in the Montana 5th judicial district - Madison County district court with Judge Tucker presiding.The original Madison county suit involved bridges over three bridges on the Ruby River. In 2008 the court ruled for PLWA on two of the roads –Duncan Road and Lewis Lane - which were established county roads.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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PLWA FILES LAWSUIT OVER BRIDGE DESTRUCTION

        12/07/2011
The following is a press release issued by PLWA on Monday Dec 5th. As you will note the action includes a claim for damages -in this case punitive damages. Punitive means just what it says.   more
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Boadle Road - Nov 30 2010
Court Action Goes On
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Boadle Road closure prompts contempt complaint

        11/11/2011
Boadle Road closure near Choteau prompts contempt of court complaintCourtesy of Great Falls Tribune and Micheal BabcockPublic Lands and Water Access Inc. officials say they will petition the state District Court to hold a Teton County landowner in contempt of court for closing Boadle Road southwest of Choteau.The PLWA said in a statement that its members have notified the attorney for Roger Jones that if Jones does not reopen Boadle Road by Nov.   more
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Boadle Road - Nov 30 2010
Court Action Goes On
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Rocky Mountain Front Road Closures

From The Great Falls Tribune - 9-8-2011Written byMICHAEL BABCOCK CHOTEAU — A "private road no trespassing" sign on Road No. 380, also known as the Salmond Ranch Road, on the Rocky Mountain Front west of Choteau, surprised former Montanan Tim Callahan.He first encountered the road closure in October 2009 while on a scenic drive in the area.   more

16-MILE CREEK ACCESS GETS $250,000 BOOST

16-MILE CREEK ACCESS GETS $250,000 BOOST THANKS TO LOCAL LEADERS Public access to one of Montana’s premier scenic streams moved a giant step forward recently when the Joint Board of the Montana Fish and Wildlife Conservation Trust granted $250,000 in funding to buy a parcel of old railroad bed along the creek. With the leadership of Steve Johnson and John Leeper, two PLAAI members in the area, PLAAI has been active in advocating for the purchase. Steve Johnson of Big Sky, commented after the decision was announced: “Thanks to your (PLAAI) efforts, over 25 letters of support were received, and none in opposition.   more
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Sixteenmile Creek
Important new Fishing Access Site
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Swimming Woman Road - County Action Positive

This is very significant in that the County Commissioners are on our side. Stay tuned .From the Harlowton Times Clarion - August 23, 2011 - The Contact there is Shirley Wagner 406-575-4431Re: Recent Commissioners MeetingThe commissioners also discussed major damage on Swimming Woman Road.   more
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Swimming Woman Road Settlement (2011)
County Successful
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Land and Water Conservation Fund

What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund and why is it important to you?The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the primary source of funding available to the Federal land management agencies to preserve, develop and assure access to outdoor recreational resources. This includes the purchase of in-holdings within existing Federal lands, the purchase of large private holdings that may be threatened by development pressures, as well as the purchase of easements and corridors which provide improved public access to existing federal lands.   more

44 CLUBS SIGN ON TO PLWA LETTER

IN AN UNPRECEDENTED ACTION, 44 SPORTING AND OUTDOOR CLUBS SIGNED ON TO A PLWA LETTER URGING CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION SUPPORT OF THE EMINENT DOMAIN ACTION TO OPEN THE CHERRY CREEK ROAD. The action was unprecedented in that it was the first time so many clubs have spoken with a unified voice on an issue of this type. “We think it’s an important issue,” said John Gibson, president of the Public Land/Water Access Association, who authored the letter.   more
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
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Hunting GPS Maps

Hunting GPS maps from Missoula, MT makes and distributes microSD chips for hand held GPS units that make it easy to see where you are at all times relative to public and private property boundaries. Easily find public lands and private land owner names. You can also query which Hunt Area or Section number you are in .   more

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO OPEN WISE LANE

Wise Lane is an official county road leading to the north bank of the Yellowstone River between Billings and Laurel. In addition to leading to the river, PLWA research indicates it also leads to an important public island at that point. The road was created when “Petitioned” by citizens in the early part of the last century.   more

Cherry Creek Road

As you will note in the Billings Gazette story below, PLWA has been involved in this case for a long time. Over 10 years ago we negotiated a settlement , with the hope and understanding that the Forest Service would work out a permanent solution. This historic road has been used by the public for years, and forest management activities such as timber sales and stand improvement would have been impossible without the road.   more

What Others Are Saying About PLWA

The Montana Sporting Journal in it's June 2010 edition opined as follows about the access problem in Montana :" LA ND GRAB""With the exception of the matter on wolves, no topic is more prevalentto Montana hunting and fishing circles than the problem of access.Even though the good ol’ days of healthy wildlife populations and wildtrout fisheries are still here today, it means less if we cannot enjoythem. While Montana’s stream access laws are very accommodating andare safe for now, hunting access is gradually becoming more endangeredacross the state.   more

PLWA Director Bernie Lea on Cherry Creek

Guest opinion: Learn where candidates stand on public access to public land BERNARD LEA The Billings Gazette | Posted: Friday, October 29, 2010 12:10 am | (5) Comments Citizens of the United States of America cannot travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Border or from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Coast, without crossing private property on an easement granted by that private landowner to the public. Think about it, the minute you leave your private property you enter on to an easement granted from a private landowner to a public entity that allows you to travel across the private land. This is why the question has to be asked: Why are the last few miles to the public land closed to the public?   more
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass County

Cherry Creek Road -LANDOWNERS PROPOSE WATERED DOWN ACCESSIn the latest development on this road , the landowners are proposing what amounts to temporary restricted access on their terms. PLWA believes this is completely unacceptable. It would prevent most big game hunters from effectively hunting on the national forest, prevent the Forest Service from effectively doing their job, keep out all but the young and hearty, and completely eliminate the use by the handicapped.   more
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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
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Comments on Mabee Rd. in Blngs Gazette Blog

County attorney advises against fighting road closureBy Brett French/Gazette StaffMar 03, 2010 | 1:56 pm | (9) Comments Fergus County attorney Thomas Meissner has advised the county's commissioners not to get involved in the Mabee Road closure, according to the Public Land/Water Access Association's latest newsletter.The PLWA has been urging the county to step up and fight to reopen the road, which access public land in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.   more

IS THE PUBLIC GETTING THE SHORT END ?

There’s no doubt about it - the public is getting the short end of the stick. As the Bureau of Land Management policy now sits, wealthy landowners are allowed to block access to vast amounts of public lands while simultaneously taking advantage of the BLM’s low cattle grazing fees. And what’s the BLM doing about it?   more

Fergus Co. Attorney Responds to Mabee Road Closure

Todd Gunderson, a PLWA volunteer attorney, received a copy of a letter Fergus County Attorney Thomas P. Meissner sent to the Fergus County Commissioners regarding the closure of Mabee road.Mr.   more
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Mabee Road
Landowner /Outfitter Lock Blocks Access
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Mabee Road Update

After extensive research we finally got the Mabee Road report in the mail to the Fergus County Commissioners and Fergus County Attorney. There are several people to thank for their efforts in completing this project. First, Billings attorney Todd Gunderson.   more
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Mabee Road
Landowner /Outfitter Lock Blocks Access
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Access Supporter Leaves a Legacy With Estate Plan

Access Supporter Leaves a Legacy With Estate PlanYou Can Too We all lost a wonderful friend, Brad Heinrich, of Ronan on Jan. 15, 2009, as a result of a vehicle accident near Perma. PLWA was pleased to find that Brad remembered PLWA with a generous bequest in his will.   more

What Others Are Saying About PLWA

The Fight for AccessBrett French - Billings Gazette - 11-6-09There's an access storm that continues to brew in Montana that may be nearing critical mass.Ranchers and farmers are worried that radical environmentalists and sportsmen are going to demand access to every acre of public land, no matter how remote.Rural counties with tight budgets have little money or inclination to take on landowners when they close off access to public lands.   more

The Bridge Access Fight

Many folks have the idea that the stream and bridge access is settled for good with the Public Land Water Access Association victory in court and passage of HB190. Well, it isn’t. HB 190 applies only to “county roads”.   more
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Montana Stream Access Law
The Best in the West
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Ranchers sue over Bullwhacker road

Bullwhacker road case ignites again - It is unfortunate the landowners are choosing to pursue this, as it is a clear case of a historic "public highway ". PLWA is confident the public interest will prevail in the long run. See comments by PLWA officers in story below.   more
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Bullwhacker Road (2011)
COURT OVERRULES COUNTY ATTY
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PROPERTY TAXES PAID BY FWP IN 2008

Critics of any Fish Wildlife and Parks land acquisitions are quick to argue that they take property off the tax rolls . This is almost entirely untrue . FWP continues to pay taxes just like any other property owner .   more

Lodgepole Road - Update

Lodgepole Road - A MAJOR SUCCESS STORY ! The status of the northern end of this county road which extends northerly from the town site of Limestone, northwest of Nye, MT has been an issue for many years. It is now open for public travel.   more

REGION 5 BRIDGE ACCESS PROJECTS

Region 5 of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks continues to work aggressively on implementing bridge access projects authorized by House Bill 190 in the last legislature. (Region 5 includes Yellowstone and the surrounding counties. ) In early august , crews from FWP, and volunteers from sporting organizations completed projects on two major bridges of significance - "Spring Creek" bridge on the Stillwater, and the bridge on the East Rosebud south of Roscoe.   more

What Others Are Saying About PLWA

From the Fall / Winter 2009 edition of THE DRAKE (A national fly fishing magazine.)(In regard to the Ruby River / Madison county case.) “The amazing thing is not that PLWA won the case---all the judge did was uphold the law.   more

Bundy Bridge Access

On July 10 a group of sportsmen and government officials met at the north side of Bundy Bridge near Pompy’s Pillar some 25 miles east of Billings. Our mission was to construct a walk thru access facility on the north west corner of the bridge.Present were Irv Wilkey.   more
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Bundy Bridge Fishing Access Site (2006)
An Island returned to public ownership
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Bundy Bridge Access - 07/11/2009

On Your Own Adventures

You will also note they have a TV show on the Outdoor Channel . As the name "On Your Own Adventures" implies, the show and website are all about unguided hunting on public land. If you are tired of watching Outdoor Channel shows about bubba’s in heated blinds shooting fenced in, baited deer , you will love this show – and website !   more

New Long Awaited Access on Stillwater

On Friday June 26, 2009 , a ceremony was held marking the grand opening of a new fishing access site on the popular Stillwater river. Formerly referred to as the Riverside Inn site , about 2 miles downstream from Absarokee, this site fills a vital need .Now called "Jeffrey's Landing" the 3.   more

NEW ACCESS IN CARBON COUNTY

The Montana state Land Board has approved purchase of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone Fishing Access Site south of Bridger. FWP will pay $516,000 for the 172-acre parcel, which includes riparian river bottoms, irrigated farm fields, grasslands and frontage on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River. Money for the purchase comes from Access Montana funds appropriated by the Montana Legislature in 2007.   more

FULL TEXT OF HB 190

HOUSE BILL NO. 190INTRODUCED BY K. VAN DYK, P. BECK, COHENOUR, ESSMANN, GALLUS, JENT, MACLAREN, O'HARA, POMNICHOWSKI, SHOCKLEY, STAHL, STEENSON, BRUEGGEMAN, BLEWETT, CAFERRO, FUREY, GILLAN AN ACT REVISING LAWS RELATED TO ACCESS TO STATE WATERS FROM COUNTY ROADS AND BRIDGES; PROVIDING THAT A FENCE ATTACHED TO OR ABUTTING A COUNTY ROAD BRIDGE IS NOT CONSIDERED AN ENCROACHMENT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; PROVIDING FOR PUBLIC ACCESS TO SURFACE WATERS FOR RECREATIONAL USE FROM A COUNTY ROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY AND FROM A COUNTY BRIDGE, ITS RIGHT-OF-WAY, AND ITS ABUTMENTS; PROVIDING FOR PUBLIC PASSAGE TO SURFACE WATERS THROUGH COUNTY ROAD AND BRIDGE RIGHTS-OF-WAY WHILE MAINTAINING LIVESTOCK CONTROL OR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT; REQUIRING THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS TO NEGOTIATE WITH AFFECTED LANDOWNERS TO PROVIDE METHODS TO ENSURE PUBLIC PASSAGE TO SURFACE WATERS FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES WHILE MAINTAINING LIVESTOCK CONTROL OR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT; PROVIDING FOR PAYMENT OF THE COSTS OF ANY FENCE MODIFICATION NECESSARY TO PROVIDE FOR PUBLIC PASSAGE; AMENDING SECTION 7-14-2134, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.   more
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Bridge Access Bill Passed in 2009
An Important Part of Stream Access
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Hughes Creek Road - Bitterroot National Forest.

May 26, 2009Ravalli County Board of Commissioners Ravalli County Courthouse 215 South 4th Street, Suite A Hamilton, MT 59840-2853 Dear County Commissioners:It has been brought to our attention that the Hughes Creek Road is closed off on its upper end. We have been up there and there is a locked non-forest service gate across it. It is located 8.   more

BRIDGE ACCESS BILL NOW LAW

Governor Schweitzer hooks Stream Access into lawSigns Rep. Kendall Van Dyk’s HB 1904/13/2009(BILLINGS) – Today, Governor Brian Schweitzer and Rep. Kendall Van Dyk joined by Attorney General Steve Bullock and area sportsmen and women celebrated the signing of Montana’s first stream access bill in over 24 years at Riverfront Park in Billings.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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MONTANA SUPREME COURT RULES ON MITCHELL SLOUGH

In a unanimous decision of Nov 17 ,2008 the Montana Supreme Court decided the Mitchell Slough is open to recreation under the state’s stream access law. The court ruled the 16-mile long slough/side channel roughly followed the century old historic course of a waterway and therefore was subject to public access and permitting like other natural waterways.For more infomation see article in accomplishments section of this website and link to Ravalli Republic article below.   more
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Mitchell Slough - 2008
A natural side channel of the Bitterroot
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Ruby River Court Victory

District Court Judge Loren Tucker's decision on access to streams at bridges on the Ruby River is a major victory for the Public Land/Water Access Association and for all Montana outdoor enthusiasts. "Without the expertise and dedication of Devlan Geddes and Jim Goetz ot the Goetz law Firm in Bozeman, Montana, this victory would never have happened" said PLWA President John Gibson. The court decision on the Ruby River Case is compicated but consider the following:Regarding the two roads that are petitioned county roads (Duncan and Lewis Lanes ), the judge ruled that the easement is 60 feet wide and extends to the water.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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Complete Text of Ruby River Ruling

(The following is substantially correct, but could be some errors in file conversion. ) MONTANA FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, MADISON COUNTYPUBLIC LANDS ACCESS ASSOCIATION INC., Cause No.   more
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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
2008
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NEW FISHING ACCESS SITE IN CRITICAL LOCATION

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced plans to purchase a 72-acre parcel of land five miles west of Columbus.The portion of the 1,000-acre Holmgren Ranch includes a mile of Yellowstone River frontage and is bordered by State Highway 10. FWP envisions developing a fishing access and campground.   more

Public Access Cornerstone of Administration

Summer is a special time here in Montana. With the winter behind us, fishing, hiking and camping are now priorities on the minds of many Montanans. On top of that, hunting season is just around the corner.   more

PLUM CREEK DEAL KEEPS PUBLIC LAND OPEN

Plum Creek Timber is turning over about a quarter of its Montana holdings in a deal backed by the federal government, which is pitching in $250 million, said U.S. Sen.   more

Big Elk Canyon - February 2008

Two Dot area landowner / outfitter Mac White continues to try and establish control over huge section of public Forest Service land despite rebuffs by the Forest Service and the public. PLAAI beat down 2006 attempt to privatize public domain, but issues of reciprocal access persist. See the Billings Gazette article linked below and article in "Accomplishments" on this website.   more

Governor says strong economy, public access linked

BUTTE - No state has rivers like Montana, and if it wants to keep itseconomy booming, then the public must continue to be able to access thoserivers, Gov. Brian Schweitzer told a crowd of stream access advocatesSaturday."It's not only that Montana has rivers that make us different, it is thatyou have the right to access our rivers that makes us different," he said.   more

BRIDGE ACCESS BILL IMPLEMENTATION

All – Now that HB 190 is law we are in the implementation phase. In order to focus and prioritize efforts we need information on specific bridges. To that end , we have developed the following checklist for essential information.   more

Arrow Island - Unfavorable Decision

Arrow Island 'park", east of Shepherd on the Yellowstone, is an undeveloped county park . Nearby homeowners are proposing a Park Maintenance District (similar to an "RSID") for purposes of maintenance of the park under their ostensible control. The proposed annual budget is $1130 for brush control and garbage pick up.   more
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Arrow Island Yellowstone County
UNFAVORABLE DECISION BY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
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BIG GAME HUNTERS NEED PLWA

FELLOW HUNTERS – particularly elk and public land deer hunters – please consider joining with us in protecting our access to public land and the vast public land game populations. (80% of elk and most trophy mule deer live all or part of the year on public land.) Access to these lands and game is increasingly threatened by private parties trying to “privatize” and commercialize the game.   more

Elections will affect Montana outdoors

Guest opinion: Elections will affect Montana outdoorsBillings Gazette - 5-23-2012By Dick Paulsen - Executive Director - Montana Wildlife FederationOne of the primary reasons many outdoors-minded persons have chosen to live in Montana is the love of the landscape and the unlimited outdoor opportunities this great state has to offer. Montana is a sought-after destination by many who want to experience the beauty and rich wildlife resources available to all. In this new technological age, and with the greater ability to commute elsewhere, Montana is becoming a popular home base for many.   more


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

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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.
     
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