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MADISON COUNTY / RUBY RIVER RULING
BRIDGE ACCESS BILL NOW LAWSIGNED IN BILLINGS BY GOVERNOR
Governor Schweitzer hooks Stream Access into law
Signs Rep. Kendall Van Dyk’s HB 190
(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.
“It’s been 24 long years since anglers and recreationalist have had a law pass the legislature that said, yes in Montana, you can access our rivers and streams from public bridges and yes we are going to maintain our tradition of access to our world-class blue ribbon trout streams,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer.
“Montanans have been asking for this for years,” said Rep. Kendall Van Dyk. “This law will keep anglers out of the courtroom and on the rivers were we belong. Montana public access laws have always been better than surrounding states and this law ensures that access will never be for sale in Big Sky Country.”
The stream access legislation will for the first time codify that landowners can legally attach fences to county roads and bridges through the public easement, while maintaining public access to river and streams through the easement.
Van Dyk’s bill clarifies questions related to a 2000 attorney general opinion about stream access. As a deputy at the Department of Justice, Bullock drafted the landmark opinion that permits stream access from publicly owned bridges. However, attempts to codify that ruling into Montana law were thwarted until now.
"As a father of three young Montanans, a sportsman, and as Attorney General, I'm proud to have played a role in protecting public access and I want to congratulate Rep. Van Dyk for bringing us across the finish line," Bullock said. "In these uncertain economic times it becomes clear that access to public lands and streams is about more than bull elk and brown trout, it's about the economic vitality and viability of our state. It's not hard to imagine what would become of many small communities without access to the places we love."
The bill carried in both chambers with strong bipartisan, passing the Senate 48-2 and 96-3 in the House. “Passing stream access with this level of support is a testament to the bipartisan cooperation Rep. Van Dyk gathered for the bill. I am proud to sign this legislation today for all of Montana,” said Schweitzer.
Billings Gazette Story - 4-14-09
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External Article / Resource
Rep VanDyk, A.G. Bullock, PLWA Pres John Gibson, Gov Schweitzer, Irv Wilke