Our Vanishing Roads

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Our Vanishing Roads
by Perry H. Nelson

“Before any productive discussion about public roads and access can proceed, our thinking about laws, roads, and some legal history needs to be clearly defined. Until everyone, for example, is aware that landowners and the public both have rights and can articulate them clearly, sportsmen/landowner relations will improve very little, in spite of the best efforts of the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks or sportsmen’s organizations…

After retirement from the state, I vowed that if I were able, and could meet up with enough citizens willing to pass through the hard knocks school of public interest activism, and research the historical laws regarding public roads, and promote their restoration, I would join with them.

That opportunity came during a public meeting called by an ad hoc group of public land users in 1984 when Gene Hawkes, a former Gallatin National Forest Supervisor, threw his $25 on the table at the Bozeman Public Library and said, ‘Here’s my start-up dues. Let’s organize a public land access group.’ After more people threw their $25 on the table that night, nine of us from Bozeman, Three Forks, and Livingston signed on as the Founders and first Board of Directors of the Public Land Access Association. PLAAI was incorporated as a Montana Corporation on April 18, 1985 by the Secretary of State.”

Original Founding PLWA (PLAAI) Board of Directors

  • Lewis E. (Gene) Hawkes – Bozeman (retired Gallatin National Forest Supervisor)
  • William (Bill) A. Fairhurst – Three Forks (educator and civic affairs)
  • Perry H. Nelson – Bozeman (retired Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologist)
  • Mark A. Simonich – Livingston
  • Bob Garner – Bozeman
  • Sandy Buchaklian – Livingston
  • Robert Olson – Livingston
  • J. L. Lawellin – Livingston (Montana Sportsmen Association)
  • Richard F. Creed – Bozeman






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.

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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