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The giants of the stream access struggle

February 12, 2014

We can all thank the Montana Supreme Court for their reaffirmation of the Montana Stream Access public trust law of 1985. One of the earliest stream trust actions was on Oct. 10, 1980, when Russ Kipp was accused of trespass by landowner Lowell Hildreth (with a rifle), standing on his illegal bridge over the Beaverhead River. A court action resulted in Hildreth removing his low-clearance bridge, with a lower sweeper cable underneath.

Fishermen such as Russ Kipp, the late Jerry Manley, Tom Bugni and Tony Schoonen thought the Montana Supreme Court might be receptive to public trust access, and they formed the Montana Coalition for Stream Access in 1980. Steve Lundy, Koke Winters, AJ. Best and John Gierach sold raffle tickets for a litigation fund. Attorney Jim Goetz of Bozeman, but with roots on the Madison River near Ennis, was hired to litigate two seminal cases during the 1980s.

Montanans owe a deep debt of gratitude for their abiding belief in the public trust and strength and ability to fight for it. Montanans are fortunate for all the work that the above people and many others did to provide fishing and recreation on rivers and streams within the high-water marks to the public!

Joe Gutkoski, president

Montana Rivers

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

Tony Schoonen at Lewis Lane -2004

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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