We pulled this great information from the GREAT blog at Chi Wulff – make sure to follow them!
Montana TU director Bruce Farthing offered his two cents (in the post comments) regarding the matter and we found the update so reassuring and sound that we’ve been meaning to repost it now for a few days and just haven’t gotten around to it. Here it is (edited only for paragraph breaks)….
You’ll be reassured a bit…appreciate the input Bruce.
People can calm down. The stream access law in Montana is NOT jeopardized by the Kennedy bridge access case.
Here are the facts: Kennedy intervened a number of years ago in litigation between the Public Lands and Water Access Association and Madison County. The case involved whether the easement across three bridges on the Ruby River on COUNTY roads in which Kennedy owned the land on either side allowed recreationists to slip into the river at the right-of-way. Madison County had a hard time making up its mind on the issue, and had not enforced the public’s ability to use a right-of-way for recreation when Kennedy constructed concentration camp fence work at the bridges (including hot wire).
PLEASE READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE…
Whether or not you live in Montana House Bill 309 is a full on slap in the face to ALL anglers who visit this great state. If you fish in Montana and want to continue in the future you should stay up to date on this topic. Don’t let an elite few ruin it for everyone just because they have enough money (and twisted ideals) to continually buy lawyers, state representative and lawmakers in an attempt to subvert this great access law.
We won’t try to rehash the great foundation already laid down on this topic by The Trout Underground, ChiWulff, and WillWorkForFish (which you should make time to read). However, in short this newly proposed law seeks to redefine the concept of what constitutes a “ditch”. In essence the language outlines a course where side channels of rivers and entire rivers can be deemed a ditch and therefore private.
Even Bob Lane, Chief Legal Counsel for Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), is opposed to the new bill stating, “HB309 not only doesn’t work, it just doesn’t make any sense.” No confusing double talk lawyer language there.
Pure and simple HB309 is less valuable than the paper it was written on. However, just because it pisses us off and doesn’t make real world sense doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stay up to date – we suggest you should as well. Let’s keep Montana’s Stream Access Law the best in the country!