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River and Stream Access


Montana has some of the most open and progessive stream access laws in the world, but they are under constant assault from out of state, deep pocketed, privatization advocates.

Montana Stream and Bridge Access
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Defining a Public Road


WHAT IS A PUBLIC ROAD ?

If you encounter a closed road or trail ( which is obviously not a federal highway , a state highway, or a city street ) and you believe it may be a legally accessible road, here are some things you can do to check it out :


FIRST, is it in a National Forest ? If so check with the Regional Forester office to see if a private easement or fee tile exists.   more

DETERMINING STATUS OF A RURAL ROAD

STEPS TO DETERMINE THE STATUS OF POSSIBLE COUNTY OR RS2477 ROADS

1) Determine the exact location, including the county, township and range, section and quarter-sections (NW1/4, SW1/4, etc.) of the road in question.   more

LAWS RELATING TO CLOSING OF MONTANA COUNTY ROADS

LAWS RELATING TO CLOSING OF MONTANA COUNTY ROADS

Private parties frequently illegally close public roads and backroads leading to public land. Action to open them can require legal action involving esoteric and arcane case law such as public prescriptive easements, or the old RS2477 federal statute.   more

Spring Creeks - Access

Spring creeks are natural water bodies just like any other stream or river and therefore fall under the Montana stream access law. The only thing that makes them at all different is the nature of spring creeks themselves.   more

HB 147 - Hunting Trespass Penalties

HOUSE BILL NO. 147
INTRODUCED BY A.   more

THE NORTH AMERICAN MODEL OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

How the people of the United States and Canada achieved the ‘Triumph of the Commons’ and restored wildlife to abundance and preserved wild lands and natural landscapes for future generations.

THE CONSERVATION ETHIC
“The greatest good for the greatest number of people for the greatest length of time.   more

THE PUBLIC TRUST DOCTRINE

THE STARTING POINT - THE PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

In this one sentence the American people established themselves as sovereigns in common and established a government as the means by which we exercise our common sovereignty.   more

RECREATIONAL USE OF STATE LANDS

As part of the original statehood action 5.2 million acres were deeded to the State of Montana to be used for school funding .   more

MONTANA A.G. OPINION ON BRIDGE ACCESS

During the 1990's there was a great deal of controversy about access to streams at bridges. In reaction to this , MT Fish Wildlife and Parks requested an opinion from the Attorney General about the legality of recreational access at bridges.   more
issue
Montana Stream Access Law
The Best in the West
related articles

STREAM ACCESS LAWS

Since statehood in 1889, under the Federal Equal Footing Law, Montana has owned the beds of navigable rivers that have sustained commercial use. The Federal Tests for commercial use include floating logs, fur trade, mail routes, transportation of goods, float-fishing, outfitting and guiding, float-boat rentals, adventure floating and guiding and all commercial uses.   more

WHO OWNS ISLANDS IN MONTANA RIVERS ?

I. GENERAL BACKGROUND

Rivers , streams , and creeks are an important - maybe the lifeblood - of Montana’s geography, economy and culture.   more

HUNTER OR ANGLER HARRASSMENT

If you are threatened or chased off of public land while hunting or fishing you have the law on your side if you wish to take legal action against the person . It comes from the Montana Statutes - specifically MCA 87-3-142.   more

Montana Access Guide

This pamphlet, published by the Montana Deptartment of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is a basic primer and introduction to public access to public lands in Montana. It has segments on Public Land Management Agencies, Rights and Responsibilities regarding Public and Private Land, Finding Access to Public and Private Land, Preserving and Improving Access, Game Violations and Law Enforcement, and Agency Locations and phone numbers.   more

Can a Landowner Fence Across a River ?

Even though we have a stream access law and an accompanying bridge access law, this does not prevent landowners from fencing across the river, or from putting a fence part way into the river. (In any river with a significant spring run off this is often not feasible because of damage caused by stuff floating down the river.   more

ILLEGAL POSTING OF PUBLIC LAND

Imagine that you have traveled several hours to get to your favorite public land hunting spot in southeastern Montana to do some mule deer hunting, only to find out that someone has wrongfully posted several "No Hunting" signs on the fenceline along one of those parcels of land? To take this scenario one step further, imagine that the person who is ultimately found to be responsible for this situation is a licensed outfitter in Montana, and worse yet, is not even a Montana resident but is a resident of WYOMING!!   more

Triumph Of The Commons

Most people of this country own private property in some form. Few American citizens realize, however, that they are equal shareholders in a vast, complex and immensely valuable estate of public property.   more

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS ON FEDERAL GRAZING LANDS

All citizens have the right to hunt, fish, and recreate on BLM and Forest Service land - even though the land is subject to a grazing permit. If a permit holder tries to kick a hunter or angler off the land they are subject penalty under the Code of Federal Regulations Subpart 4140.   more

Research the key to keeping public land access

Research the key to keeping public land access
By BERNARD LEA

The Public Land/Water Access Association has been involved in gathering evidence to present to county officials relative to the right of way status of roads in Montana. We provided Blaine County with documents that led to the determination of the county attorney that the Bull Whacker Road was a public road.   more

Complete Text of Stream Access Law

TITLE 23. PARKS, RECREATION, SPORTS, AND GAMBLING
CHAPTER 2.   more
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Montana Stream Access Law
The Best in the West
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public land news

Ruby River Stream Access Victory
( 07/01/2016 )   7/1/2016PLWA, once again, has been victorious in the battle for the public's stream access on the Ruby River, from the Seyler Lane Bridge, likely the original stagecoach route from Salt Lake City, north to Virginia City and Helena.It has been over a decade that PLWA (formerly known as PLAAI) has been involved in a lawsuit over public access to the Ruby River from Seyler Lane and the Seyler Bridge, a public prescriptive easement right-of-way in Madison County.

"Dark Money" Brought to Light
( 07/01/2016 )   The June-July, Newscasts section of Fly Fisherman reported on the recent investigation by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, into a dark money campaign that could overturn Montana's Stream Access.Fly Fisherman recounted the Montana Growth Network's campaign contributions to District Judge Laurie McKinnon's run for our Montana Supreme Court.

public land issues

Seyler Lane Update
9/24/2015Seyler Bridge Easement - More Than Just RecreationUpdate - Kennedys attorney requested a postponement of the September 21 hearing.

Tenderfoot - Four Years and Counting
9/24/2015Tenderfoot Creek is a tributary of the Smith River, joining the Smith a mile or so north of Camp Baker.

Tenderfoot Acquisition Advances
Tenderfoot Acquisition AdvancesThis is truly one of the most significant public access actions by a government agency - working with private entities - of all time.


    17 more public land issues

Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA, is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.

TERMS OF USE
Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice. Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.
     
      PLWA.ORG   -   Public Land & Water Association