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Boadle Road - Nov 30 2010
Court Action Goes On

Boadle Road closure prompts contempt complaint


Boadle Road closure near Choteau prompts contempt of court complaint

Courtesy of Great Falls Tribune and Micheal Babcock

Public 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. 18, they will petition the court for the contempt ruling.

Boadle Road, which provides access to the south shore of Pishkun Reservoir, had been used by the public for years prior to being closed in the early 2000s.

The PLWA has sued Jones on numerous occasions over Boadle Road and Sun River Slope Canal Road, which connects to it, in state District Court, taking some of those cases to the Montana Supreme Court.

Canal Road is part of the most direct route to Pishkun Reservoir for people heading there from the south. The reservoir is popular with anglers fishing for pike, perch and rainbow trout.

Anglers from Great Falls and Helena can shave almost an hour off a trip to Pishkun Reservoir by using the road. When the road is blocked, they must drive to Choteau and then backtrack to the reservoir.

John Gibson, president of the PLWA, said the Montana Supreme Court recently affirmed a District Court decision that the Sun River Slope Canal Road is a public road, and may be used by the public without interference from Jones.
"It appears that Mr. Jones subsequently failed to follow the repeated direction of the court by removing the bridge crossing the Sun River Slope Canal, thus preventing public travel," according to the PLWA statement.

Gibson said the PLWA successfully defended Boadle and Sun River Slope Canal roads as public right-of-ways in court five different times, including three appeals to the Montana Supreme Court. Those legal actions occurred over a period of eight years.

"This time, Steve Bullock, the (state) attorney general, has also written a letter to the attorney for Mr. Jones stating that the refusal to follow direction of the court appears to represent an unlawful act," Gibson said. "It's one thing to close a road that has no legal status, but a totally different matter to close a road that the courts have determined to be public."
Gibson credited sportsmen's groups such as Russell Country Sportsmen and Montana Wildlife Federation for reporting instances of road closures across the state.

"Montana is experiencing a rash of road closures to public land and water," Gibson said. "We depend on those citizens who are out in the field to let us know when and where these closures take place. Go to our website, www.PLWA.org, to view information regarding other closures and find out what to do if you come across one."

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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