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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 . This includes Fishing Access Sites , Wildlife Management Areas and , after 2009, on State Parks. (See note below.)

In 2008 these taxes amounted to $522,655 - over one half million dollars. This includes payments to the following counties:

Lake County - $74,047
Anaconda - Deer Lodge County - $56,729
Yellowstone County - $49,993
Lewis and Clark County - $47,553
Gallatin County - $40,575
Flathead county - $27,628
Teton County - $26,061
Missoula County - $25,577
Beaverhead County - $25,063
Madison County - $18,449
Cascade County - $15,192
Powell County - $12,661
Fergus county - $10,381

This is only a partial list. Just about every county received payments.

The law which covers these payments states "Before November 30 of each year, the treasurer of each county in which the department owns any land shall describe the land, state the number of acres in each parcel, and request the drawing of a warrant to the county in a sum equal to the amount of taxes which would be payable on county assessment of the property were it taxable to a private citizen." (MCA 87-1-603 ) THIS WOULD APPEAR TO BE PRETTY HARD TO MISUNDERSTAND !

The funds for these taxes come entirely from hunters and anglers - either general license dollars or taxes on sporting goods. ( Even though the public at large gets great benefit from these areas.) FWP acquisitions get a lot of press, but they are minimal in comparison to private purchases of recreational or high amenity property. Total sales of recreational property are estimated to be upwards of $300 million to $500 million per year. It is rumoured that one broker alone sold over one hundred million dollars of recreational property in southeast Montana last year.

Technical note; Prior to 2009, FWP paid fees on State Parks and was exempt only for the taxes on the property and improvements. However, with the passage of HB674 in 2009, FWP will pay full taxes and fees on acquired State Parks.

related articles

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.

public land issues

Seyler Lane Update
9/24/2015Seyler Bridge Easement - More Than Just RecreationUpdate - Kennedys attorney requested a postponement of the September 21 hearing.

Tenderfoot - Four Years and Counting
9/24/2015Tenderfoot Creek is a tributary of the Smith River, joining the Smith a mile or so north of Camp Baker.

    18 more public land issues

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