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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Western Montana

    Default Montana Stream Access Law in front of Supreme Court ... AGAIN

    Hello fellow anglers,

    Once again a large land-owner is challenging Montana's Stream Access Law on oft embattled Ruby River in SW Montana. The case will be heard by the MT Supreme Court in about a month, in Bozeman at MSU. In typical fashion, this case is another attempt to chisel away the law, trying to deny access at a single bridge.

    Read about it here and consider $20 donation to the defense fund. Come on, that's like four lattes...

    Montana Stream Access on Trial Again | MidCurrent

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Default Re: Montana Stream Access Law in front of Supreme Court ... AGAIN


    Do you have any idea if there will be a web cast from MSU?

    ---------- Post added at 03:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:02 PM ----------

    I wish I could spend a little time with some of these people and try to get a view from their point of view. The simple fact that barbed wire has been allowed to be installed across a navigable waterway in this country never seizes to amazes me. I also understand that many fishermen/hunters show no respect for the land owner’s property or public property for that matter. Those folks act as though they are entitled to access the property/space “by law”, and as result, demonstrate an attitude that is not conducive towards a positive reception by the land owner. Simply put, they **** them off!

    I’m just trying to wear their shoes for a day. That allows me to believe that I can grow as a person.

    Just for the record……….I am dead against it!

    I have never been approached by a land owner, have any of you? What was the experience?

    Take care,

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Western Montana

    Default Re: Montana Stream Access Law in front of Supreme Court ... AGAIN

    Hey Dan,

    Some years ago I had a great fishing buddy here. One February we left Missoula every Sunday morning and drove to the upper end of Rock Creek and would fish all day - which in February is only about 6 hours - covering a mile or two of river each time. Next time we would go in where we had ended the week before, we wanted to cover one long section of river. It was great until about the 4th week we went up, the weather was nicer and there were a few other fisherman around. We pulled off the road at a spot where the river is directly below the road grade and slid down into the river. There is also a nice old ranch in that section. Well Steve got in front of me heading downstream through the big deal, right? Hell it's ROCK CREEK, and access is unlimited. Well we'd just started fishing and I look up and Steve is talking to someone, the body language is confrontational. Then Steve is heading back toward me and the road.

    This landowner yelled at him for basically being from Missoula. "You guys think you can just come out here from Missoula and fish whenever you want to...then YOU tell us to stop irrigating in the summer for the fish...well I'm giving the fish a break now, the river is closed!" That is paraphrasing of course, it was 12 years ago, but I do remember well because Steve was frazzled.

    Those were some bad drought years and the rivers were not in good shape a few summers in row then. Tension and emotions were high. If you live in Missoula you are automatically guilty by association with all the "tree huggers" enviros "green nazis" etc. It's really too bad.

    I'm not sure what I'd have done if I were the one getting yelled at, but we left because my buddy didn't think it was worth a fight. But this was a guy, probably a 3rd generation rancher in that valley, who was feeling the pressure and over-reacted. I like to think that I could talk to someone like that. Maybe I'd still leave, maybe he'd end up letting us use his driveway to access the river further away from the road. Who knows.

    But these guys, these multi- millionaires that buy up a 10,000 acre tract of land, all the land bordering a river and then fight the State to try to not allow folks to use a bridge on a county road to get into the river to fish...that is just BS. That is was pisses off the people that live here. I fully respect private property, but the law states, and was reaffirmed a couple years ago by the court, that citizens have the right to use rivers if they stay within the river's high water mark. I've seen barbed wire tied to the guard rails of bridges just to make it hard to use the public right of way at a bridge crossing. It's BS.

  4. Likes troutcomegetit, long bow liked this post
  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Great Falls, Montana

    Default Re: Montana Stream Access Law in front of Supreme Court ... AGAIN


    THANK YOU for posting this; this is why I'm on fishing forums! There is a great deal of education that can happen in this manner, and as fisherman, we need more knowledge than just when does one throw the size 16 para adams? (which is one of my all time favorite )

    So here's my question since I'm not completely up on this issue. Besides the cross claims asserting a Constitutional violation with the stream access and ability per Montana Code to access streams off of a bridge or public right-of-way (which is the attack on MT stream access), isn't this issue simply about determining the definition of the easement that this bridge is on? I'm looking at MCA 23-2-312(2) which makes us look at the easement itself. My initial thought is that this is more seeking to clarify the easement's language in construction.

    So is Kennedy just arguing that the easement's language is stating that it extends less than the usual width, thus bringing it under the statute for access?

    It's not that I'm pro-Kennedy, just aware that MT has some awesome access that gets eroded when Big Ranch owners get ticked off. Bad facts make bad law, and I'm trying to figure out if this is an attack on our access or just Kennedy using the language of the statute. I know his other claims are the attack for sure, but in my simple head, stating that the language in the easement is just further solidifying Montana's law. As always, the local ranchers have bigger problems than dealing with someone dropping off a bridge to fish and its the "invaders from afar" who try to create their own fiefdoms out here in MT.


    for the most part, I try to be the one approaching the landowner before any issue arises. Most of the time, they are good-ol MT ranchers and farmers who are excited to see someone ask instead of tromp through their land. That being said, I've happily wandered the Ruby in full view of those who wish me the upmost of "ill-harm."
    Last edited by long bow; 03-21-2013 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Clarification and NEVER WANTING TO APPEAR in favor of Kennedy

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