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AFFTA Stands Against Montana's HB309

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Public Access Could be Lost Public Access Could be Lost

The American Fly Fishing Trade Associations opposes Montana's HB309. This bill is intended to circumvent the 2008 Montana Supreme Court ruling that gives public access to Montana's streams. The fight for access to Montana's streams is similar to one fought and lost in Utah. If Montana"s and Utah"s rich land owners have there way restrictions could migrate to all Western States. This is everyone's fight who fishes in the Western States. Montana Stream Access Law states: "Under the Montana Stream Access Law, the public may use rivers and streams for recreational purposes up to the ordinary high-water mark. Although the law gives recreationists the right to use rivers and streams for water-related recreation, it does not allow them to enter posted lands bordering those streams or to cross private lands to gain access to streams." Land Owners are trying to change the law.

AFFTA registers opposition to Montana HB309
Joins hundreds in showing support for recreational fishing access.arch 10, 2011

March 10, 2011  


Bozeman, Mont. – Jim Klug, Chairman of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) announced the association’s opposition to House Bill 309, in testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 8.

The legislation would upset a 2008 Montana Supreme Court decision that allowed public access to the state's streams. “AFFTA would like to go on record as opposing House Bill 309,” said Klug. “We believe that if passed, this bill will not only harm Montana businesses, but will negatively impact the fly-fishing industry as a whole.”

According to a 2010 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study of trout fishing in the United States, nationally, trout anglers spent an estimated $1.06 billion in 2006 on food and lodging for fishing trips. In addition, anglers spent $32,362,000 and $18,654,000 on public and private land use fees respectively for fishing in 2006. Trout fishing related expenses generated $965,201,922 in federal tax revenues in 2006 and $807,005,252 in state and local tax revenues across the county.

As one of the premiere fishing destinations within the U.S., Montana is a huge beneficiary of these angler-generated revenues. “Anglers travel from all over the country and the world to fish Montana, and the resulting economic benefits to the State are substantial,” said Klug. “People come to Montana to fish and to spend their money because the state is known for its affordability, it’s ease of travel, and above all for the accessibility of its waters. No other state in the country can compare.”

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 figures, anglers in Montana generated more than $315 million in retail sales, more than $24 million in state tax revenue and had more than a $478 million impact on the state’s economy.

“In the bigger picture, and from the perspective of the fly fishing industry as a whole, the multiplier effect of anglers traveling to and fishing Montana is substantial, impacting not only Montana guides, outfitters, retailers, and other businesses, but hundreds of other fishing-related businesses throughout the country, said Klug.”

For additional information visit www.AFFTA.com and www.facebook.com/AFFTA.

AFFTA is the sole trade organization for the fly-fishing industry, working to promote the industry’s sustained growth. AFFTA represents more than 300 small businesses including, manufacturers, retailers, guides and media operating in more than 42 states.



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Comments (3 posted):

Frank Whiton on 17/03/2011 15:06:51
Hi Everyone, This story just touches on the fight going on in Montana right now. Even though the Montana State Supreme Court has already ruled that the public has access to Montana's streams, land owners are trying to get around the ruling. Utah fought a similar law and lost the battle at least temporally. State trespass laws effect everyone who fishes in that particular state no matter where you live. Frank
FlyBum on 17/03/2011 16:28:16
I just really have a problem with anyone should be able to restrict access to a natural accuring stream or river regardless whether it is navigable or if crosses through private property. I simply do not beleive any individual can own such a property and therefore has no right to restrict access. I beleive that there should be a public right of way area anywhere there is a natural water course and not only on the water itself. However I do not believe any land owner with property butting up to whatever the public area is should be required to be responsible for the up keep of that public right of way area. So in my opinion the defeat of this law is absolutely critical and its passing would IMO be a violation of all of our rights as U.S. citizens. Let me say as a former agricultural land owner I believe rights of land owners and the right to own and control private property, but I also beleive there should be some limits to those rights such as I describe above.
dogfly on 17/03/2011 23:34:50
I agree that streams should be open to everyone. If it was born and died on that personís property then we have to ask. We should be able to walk and wade the stream from a public access point. I have a trout stream in my back yard. Normally one asks permission to fish it. However if there is a fisherman on the stream, I donít care if he stays there all day as long as he does not mess up the place. Trout normally come up to my property only when there is lots of water after a good rain Ė saw a nice brown yesterday. Then there are (less than 1%) who donít care about the stream nor property. They leave the place a mess; even throw garbage into the stream. If it continues Iíll close it down to all just for a few lousy dopes. Then they think that my property is an access point without asking. If someone gets hurt, itís pretty rocky going down to the stream, theyíll end up suing me, I DONĒT NEED THAT. Laws have to change to protect the property owner from liability and have a special stamp to catch lawyers (no catch and release), in addition to a trout stamp I believe that we all should have access. Again itís the liability that gets in the way.
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