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Presidents Message - JUNE2010

Although most of our members are probably hunters and anglers it is important to understand that when the Public Land and Water Access Association challenges a road closure we are representing everyone who might use that road for any number of purposes.

One such use would those of bird watchers. Within the great bird migration corridor that runs north and south along the east side of the Rocky Mountains bird watchers can observe many birds of prey such as golden eagles and several species of hawks. Some of the best observation points along this corridor are accessed by primitive roads.

In that vast prairie region that is central and eastern Montana the numerous prairie dog towns support burrowing owls. There are other species such as the prairie grouse that are indigenous to this land. Due to the enormous size of this area, the road system, both formal county roads and otherwise, is critical to those who would observe and study these species.

Frankly, I believe every one of my sightings of snowy owls has been from the window of my pickup while driving on a prairie road.

Rockhounds and geologists also use the road system to collect and expand their understanding of geologic processes.

My point is, that when a road is closed it is usually closed to everyone. Conversely, when we are able to open that road to the public, it is open to everyone.

The same is true for access to public water. The court decision we won on the Ruby River means that everyone can access the stream at those bridges regardless of the water based activity they intend to engage in.

I donít have to tell birders how important river bank (riparian) habitat is to many species of birds.

One more point. As our fire seasons become longer and drier, the firefighters ability to quickly reach an suppress a small fire is critical. For the fire suppression people, one locked gate can make the difference between a small fire and a conflagration. Those who would say that excluding people and traffic from the land would mean no fires are forgetting that seventy to eighty percent of the fires in the northern Rocky Mountains and great plains are caused by lightning.

Let me be clear about our mission. PLWA does not condone off road travel. Likewise, we seldom challenge travel restrictions imposed by land management agencies on the public land or water. What we do challenge are those roads being closed by individuals and corporations who would privatize and commercialize Montanaís land and wildlife for profit or personal use. - John Gibson

related articles

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.

    18 more public land issues

John Gibson addresses Banquet

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

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.
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