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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 greatest good for the greatest number of people for the greatest length of time.”
Gifford Pinchot


Our American national development resulted in almost total destruction of the wildlife populations of the nation. Leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt stepped forward in the 1880’s and 1890’s to start a national effort to save part of the nation’s landscapes as wild and natural areas, and to restore wildlife numbers to a size that could be of benefit to the people of many generations. Hunters and anglers, standing virtually alone, created this ‘conservation movement,’ gave it political force and social leadership and provided for financial support.

Between the founding of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 and the Montana Elk Summit in 2008, (where we debated the problem of too many elk) the American people invested in the duel development of our treasury of public lands and waters and the restoration of wildlife. This investment was immensely successful and has produced profits for the people beyond what anybody could have predicted. Today there is a great effort to loot the public treasury of those conservation profits. This looting takes place even as a growing population of urban Americans want and need the benefits of the great wild and natural landscapes and wildlife abundance bankrolled for them by their ancestors.

The most common method of taking the value of public wildlife from the American people is simply by blocking legal access to the public lands and waters, or by commercial schemes that create unequal opportunity to enjoy the public wildlife.


Over the course of 121 years between 1887 and 2008, the people of Canada and the USA engaged in a process of logical invention that saw huge, costly blunders but ultimately produced a new ‘how-to’ knowledge based on experience, science and a strong moral code. This accumulated experience produces successful conservation results reliably every time the knowledge is used properly.

We have recently given this ‘how-to knowledge’ a name: We now call it: The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.


• Wildlife as Public Trust Resources
The people own the wildlife and assign direct management to government

• Elimination of Markets for Wildlife
Illegal to sell and buy live animals and parts of dead animals.

• Allocation of Wildlife by Law
Public law identifies who can hunt, and sets seasons, bag limits, number of permits, etc to regulate the hunt.

• Wildlife Can Only be Killed for a Legitimate Purpose
Non-Hunters and Hunters share a cultural value that abhors waste of public property & wanton destruction.

• Wildlife are Considered an International Resource
Migratory species cross national boundaries. Oceans, rivers and lakes, etc.

• Science is the Proper Tool for Discharge of Wildlife Policy
The law and regulation of people and wildlife derives from valid scientific research
We had to invent the science of wildlife biology to fulfill this need.

• Democracy of Hunting
Every citizen qualified to hunt under law has equal standing to obtain the privilege and opportunity to hunt or otherwise benefit from use of the public property. Access to the wildlife and public lands and waters is controlled and regulated by the public trustee according to laws made by representatives of the people.

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

Young Ram in Winter

Rocky Mountain Big Horns

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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