"Keeping the public on public lands & waters"


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State School Trust Lands

Opening 5.2 million acres for recreation
( 1988 )As part of the original statehood action 5.2 million acres were deeded to the State of Montana to be used for school funding . . These lands are leased for farming, ranching, and logging. Prior to 1988, a citizen who wanted to recreate on school trust lands had to get permission from the lessee. This was often difficult because many lessees had contracted with outfitters or restricted access to friends or relatives. In 1988, two members of Public Lands/Water Access Association, Tony Schoonen and Jack Atcheson, filed a lawsuit against the State Public Land Department to open these public lands to the public. They continued on this path and won every motion to dismiss the suit filed by the Stockgrowers and other parties . It appeared that they were on the right track and the issue was picked up by Rep. Dave Brown. who introduced the State Trust Lands legislation that became law. This statute opened up about five million acres of School Trust Lands for recreationists use as well as millions of adjoining acres of BLM and Forest Service land.

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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.
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