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Madison County / Seyler Lane




"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. Kennedy's property without his permission." This is what I heard the lawyer for James Cox Kennedy say at the Montana Supreme Court hearing in Bozeman on April 29..

Although it might sound ludicrous, we shouldn't take such claims lightly. There are many powerful individuals and organizations that would like to prove Kennedy's lawyer correct.

The Public Land and Water Access Association is taking it very seriously. We have established the Stream Access Defense Fund to protect our right to access streams from public bridges and to float both navigable and non-navigable rivers and streams.

Let me remind you that PLWA is an all volunteer organization. No one in PLWA is on salary or commission. Your contribution will go directly to protecting stream access.

We have been in this Ruby river legal conflict for almost ten years. That's when Kennedy placed electric fences on the bridge abutments and over the water. It has been an expensive and lonely fight. The state has not joined us in our lawsuit.

If anyone believes our stream access law is unimportant, all they need to do is look at states such as Wyoming or Colorado (where neither you nor any of your equipment can touch private land below the water) to realize our state of Montana is the champion of public stream access in the United States.

The purpose of this letter is to ask your help in defending our stream access law by making a contribution to our Stream Access Defense Fund.

PLWA will continue to be obligated to pay legal defense bills even though amicus briefs have been filed by Trout Unlimited and to a very limited extent by the State of Montana. We expect Kennedy and his allies, the United Property Owners of Montana and the PERC organization to try and move this case into the Federal Court System. Our law firm, the Goetz Firm of Bozeman, plans to continue the fight all the way. (We are quite sure there will be an infusion of "Dark Money" into the other side's coffers even though Kennedy himself is a billionaire.)


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

John Gibson

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.
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