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Cherry Creek Road - Sweetgrass Cty
16,000 acres of public land at risk
44 CLUBS SIGN ON TO PLWA LETTERUNPRECEDENTED ACTION - CHERRY CREEK ROAD
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. “There are so many other things going on that it dropped off the radar, but it hasn’t for sportsmen.”
PLWA Vice President Dennis Grundman of Big Big Sky Montana spearheaded this effort.
April 7, 2011
Senator Jon Tester Representative Dennis Rehberg
204 Russell Senate Office Building 516 Cannon Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2604 Washington, D.C. 20515
RE: Cheery Creek Road Access
Dear Senator Tester & Representative Rehberg:
On behalf of the sportsmen and sportswomen of Montana we are collectively corresponding with you concerning an issue that we believe should have been resolved long ago - Cherry Creek Road.
The Cherry Creek Road is approximately 8 miles south of Big Timber, MT and accesses 25 square miles of U.S. Forest Service lands. The first mile of the road is mostly owned by two owners who purchased the property in 1997. At the present time, these new owners have gated the road to prevent unrestricted public access.
The unrestricted public use of the Cherry Creek Road dates back to 1898. We are aware of numerous documents, plats, aerial photos, and gas tax revenue documentation that all indicate this is a public road by prescriptive easement and has been used for generations by outdoor recreationists.
In 1999, there was a negotiated settlement that allowed unrestricted public access for ten years.
During these ten years the U.S. Forest Service was to explore options with the landowners that
would have resulted in public access opportunities into the future; from what we understand the
landowners have not been receptive to the terms explored. It now appears the only option left for
the USFS is to use eminent domain to a obtain a permanent easement. Before this process could be
initiated, however, the USFS was required to complete a very thorough analysis; this has been
A law passed in 1996 allows any one of Montana’s Congressional delegation to start or stop
an eminent domain procedure. During the past year we have, to no avail, contacted the offices of Senator Tester and Representative Rehberg asking for a review of and assistance with this matter. We are deeply concerned that this matter will be forgotten and or not addressed in an appropriate time-frame and therefore, we may permanently lose access to more than twenty five square miles of our public estate. If the USFS and landowners cannot reach an acceptable agreement after ten years, it appears that eminent domain is the only tool remaining to ensure public access to our public land.
Public access is one of the most crucial and important issues for your Montana hunting, fishing,
and outdoor recreating constituents. It is also a major factor in job creation for our tourist industry and management of the isolated public lands.
Senator Tester and Representative Rehberg, each of you has expressed commitment to public access.
To this end, we need and therefore request your support to allow the U.S. Forest to initiate the eminent domain process unless there can be resolution of the matter in the next 30 days. We will all appreciate your timely attention to this matter and an early reply.
Respectfully, John Gibson - President
Public Lands/Water Access Assoc.
Montana Wildlife Federation and affiliate clubs
Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited.
Backcountry Horsemen of Montana
Billings Rod and Gun Club
Laurel Rod & Gun Club
Custer Rod and Gun Club
Butte Mineral and Gem Club
Skyline Sportsmen’s Club
Magic City Fly Fisherman
Headwaters Sportsman’s Assoc. - Bozeman
Russell Country Sportsmen Assoc
Billings Gem and Mineral Club.
Montana River Action
Teton County Sportsmen Assoc.
Rosebud/Treasure Wildlife Assoc.
Dawson County Rod and Gun Club
Gallatin Wildlife Association
Big Sky Upland Bird Assoc.
Bozeman Gem and Rock Club
George Grant Chapter of TU
Great Falls Archery Club
Libby Rod and Gun Club
Yellowstone Audubon Society.
Meagher County Sportsmen
Beaverhead Archery Club
Anaconda Sportsmen’s Assoc.
Park County Rod and Gun Club
Traditional Bow Hunters of Montana
Big Sky Hikers
Safari Club Great Falls Branch
Bitterroot Gem and Mineral Society
Helena Hunters and Anglers
Northwest Rock Chucks
Bitterroot Houndman’s Assoc.
Missouri River Fly Fishers
Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon
State Land Access Coalition.
Prickly Pear Sportsmen
Bud Lilly - Legendary West Yellowstone Angler
Hellgate Mineral Society
Patch Top Mountain Club
Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation
Cherry Creek - Sweetgrass Cty.
Elk in the big open