12-Year Fight over Montana River Access Peters Out

by Eve Byron, Courthouse News

“A highly contentious 12-year battle over the public’s right to access the Ruby River in Montana finally is finished, as the deadline to appeal the Montana Supreme Court’s decision passed without further fight by private landowners.

John Gibson, president of the Public Land/water Access Association, said Thursday he was thrilled to learn late last week that the deadline passed for appealing the stream access decision. The case pitted his small group against a wealthy, out-of-state landowner, who in the 1990s started buying property along the Ruby River and restricting access.

‘There was always a chance for more appeals, and even the possibility of them trying to get it into the federal court system. But that’s all over now,’ Gibson said on Thursday. ‘This case points out that if you get involved in this stuff, you better be prepared for a long haul with lawyers, money, various appeals and protests.

This is a milestone. It’s a rebuttal of the attempt of a very rich individual to control access to streams in Montana. He was defeated by a bunch of volunteers.’ ”

Seyler Lane
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Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA,
is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.
The Internal Revenue Service has made a determination that PLWA qualifies as a tax- exempt
organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and that it is a public charity.

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