Originally Posted by al_a
Not sure that's right, since DePuy's starts up on the Armstrong property, so theoretically Armstrong's could keep people from using their portion without paying, but DePuy's couldn't, since it only runs through theirs. And Nelson's is also owned by two separate landowners, I believe.
I always thought that the Armstrong/DePuy spring creek got around the law because it's not quite a "natural" spring creek. As I understood it, the spring once emerged and flowed a short distance to the river, while what is now the spring creek channel was actually the old channel of Trail Creek. The spring was diverted into the Trail Creek channel, and later Trail Creek was diverted to run directly to the river in the old spring channel. I don't know about Nelson's.
I believe what Skibum meant was that a spring creek can be private in Montana under stream access law if the creek originates on private property. On the converse, a spring creek that is a channel of a main river stem like in the case of Odell or Mitchell Slough, then the public has the right to access the creek via the main river.
It isn't about who necessarily owns the spring creek itself, simple that on private property it is essentially "owned" by the landowner. In reality the land is simply owned so that party can sell access to it like Armstrong and DePuys.