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Fiddle Creek - Shields River
Illegal Signs Removed

Illegal Signs on Fiddle Creek Bridge Down

On the Ground Action by PLWA Volunteers

Last year about this time one of our members driving over the Shields river Fiddle Creek Bridge noticed a whole lot of orange paint and a bunch of nasty signs. (The Shields is a classic small trout stream in the Livingston area.) He took a few pictures and sent them on to members in Livingston. This started chain reaction of events leading to the removal of the signs. But it is hard to believe how complicated such a simple compliance action can be.

One of our board members had to research property ownership. Another had a preliminary meeting with the County Commissioners and the Local FWP warden. In the process FWP Commissioner Dan Vermilion got involved. Essentially the agencies had to be educated about the bridge access law and be forcefully reminded of their responsibilities. The Park County Commissioners did their job and ruled the signs had to come down. But about a month ago, another member noticed they were still up. So then the question became who will "bell the cat" - the Sheriff ? FWP Wardens ? It turned out to be the latter, who did their job, pulled down the signs, and painted over the offending orange. (There may still be some orange paint in the vicinity, but that does not deny access to the river below the high water mark. No one should be intimidated. Landowners are free to use orange paint to prohibit trespassing on land above the high water mark. )

All of this just goes to show you how the compliance deck is often stacked against the public. Even though case law and statute law is on the side of access, getting action by responsible officials usually requires hours of research, pushing, shoving, and sometimes lawsuits.

(In this case county officials and FWP were not obstructionist, but in many cases the County Commissions can be a major obstacle. We thank the Park County Commissioners, the County Attorney, and Commissioner Vermilion for their responsiveness. )

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

Fiddle Creek Bridge

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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