Montana Stream Access Law

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by freestoneangler, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Jan 1, 2006
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    Ruby Valley, MT
    It must be great having an endless supply of cash to further one's personal agenda. It's not like he (and others) didn't know about Montana's heritage and long standing stream access laws.

    One more victory for PLWA - Is this the end of the 7th Inning ?​
    As you may recall, James Cox Kennedy requested a rehearing of the January Montana Supreme Court decision in the Seyler Lane bridge case. This was the case which effectively settled the issue of stream access at prescriptive road bridges and reaffirmed the stream access law. On march 6th the court found no merit in the legal argument that it had retroactively overturned case law in regard to prescriptive easements and that it had overlooked other significant arguments of Kennedy. Here is the court order .

    The Seventh Inning Stretch

    The next step in the continued fight over stream access in Montana
    By George Bauer

    If the Bridges of Madison County saga on the Ruby River was a baseball game then we would be at the seventh inning stretch. This historic case was filed in 2004 and was finally heard after eight years of early inning maneuvering. The score was PLWA - 2, Media Mogul - 0 when Kennedy was ordered to remove his "No Trespassing" signs from Duncan Road and Lewis Lane. The ruling reinforced Montana's 2009 Bridge Access Law which says a public road right of way extends the full width of the road and over the bridge to a stream's high-water mark. That law, passed after much compromise between anglers and landowners to help gain public access to public waters, came on the third try and only after lots of hard work.
    Before the hearing the parties (PLWA v. Madison County) stipulated Seyler Lane was a public road right of way - it is one of the oldest roads in the state. And yet District Judge Loren Tucker ruled there is a distinction between the public's right and the county's right to access the river. Judge Tucker's ruling did not get to first base - it was thrown out by the Montana Supreme Court. The January 2014 ruling stated the roadway could to be used by the public "for all foreseeable uses, including recreation." The case was sent back to District Court with instructions to hear evidence on the width of the right-of-way.

    And now, like a big league manager who didn't like the call at the plate, Kennedy filed a petition for rehearing. This would have reopened the case for further arguments on the grounds the court abandoned property law principals and converted Kennedy's private property to public land. The court denied the petition and in effect said "Nonsense". The Supreme Court has never been eager to plow the same ground twice .
    The Supreme Court took nearly a year to reach a decision this last time so it could be 2016 before the fat lady sings at the bottom of the ninth.
    Later this year another District Court will hear evidence of decades of public access to the Ruby from Seyler Lane and then could take months to issue a ruling. Don't be surprised if Kennedy appeals, whatever the decision.

    Step up to the plate and take a swing at those who would rob the public of their access rights. Join PLWA or make and additional contribution. Let's keep on winning.


    Litigation like this is not cheap. And keep in mind this is a pure grass roots effort. The State of Montana has not put in one dime to defend the stream access law.

    It is easy to donate to PLWA - on line secure with PayPal - and you don't need a Pay Pal account - just a credit card. ​
    Any contribution greater than $20 includes membership.
    Salmo_g and Kyle Smith like this.
  2. jwg

    jwg Active Member

    Aug 22, 2009
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    West Richland, WA
    And now, there is no limit to the amount of money one individual can spend to "promote" the election of the local sheriff or local judges of his choice.
    freestoneangler likes this.
  3. Brian White

    Brian White Recovering Bugmeister

    Oct 5, 2009
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    Further from MT than I'd like (B-vue, WA)
    i wish i had a friend who was a Shoshone or a Cheyenne or something. We'd head right over to the Ruby for some quality fishing. I would love to see the conversation between Kennedy and his cronies and my friend, where Kennedy would angrily pronounce his rights over the land and the river. I could lean over and whisper to Kennedy "under normal circumstances i feel you don't have a leg to stand on, but now you are REALLY sounding like a d-bag."
    freestoneangler likes this.
  4. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

    Jun 28, 2005
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    Seattle, WA
    This reminds me of a funny story told to me by a friend (and forum member, I believe), who belongs to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai in Montana. He is an excellent and avid fly fishermen and was fishing on Rock Creek one day a few years back when a F&W warden asked to check his license. He said he didn't have one, paused for a pregnant moment, and then said, but I think this will work, and showed his tribal identity card. The warden said he didn't see too many of them down there, to which my friend replied that his tribal friends didn't fish there, because they preferred not to play with their food (RC is a C&R only river).
    freestoneangler likes this.
  5. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

    Feb 18, 2005
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    Skagit River
    That was told to me once. My reply was that not everyone thinks of them as food. :)

    Stream access and maintaining the public/county right of way is something worth fighting for...and doing it in court is expensive. Having to do it over and over is...overly expensive. Perhaps there is room for a counter lawsuit - frivolous litigation comes to mind