by Eve Byron, Ravalli Republic
“Residents involved in the Hughes Creek Road dispute are asking the Montana Supreme Court to intervene in the dismissal of a lawsuit they filed in an attempt to keep a gate in place that prohibits public use of the road.
The move comes less than one week after the Ravalli County Commission sent a letter to Suzanne Raski and Michael Mikolaichik, who own the land on which the gate sits. In the letter, the commission said the couple needed to remove the gate by Aug. 1. If they did, the county said it wouldn’t seek repayment of costs or fines from them or other landowners.
‘If the gate is not removed by that date, the county will remove the gate and may seek fines and costs to the extent allowed by law,’ the letter states.
‘We are going to continue our legal action because all of the evidence stands for the landowners. It’s not a county road beyond the gate,’ Mikolaichik said on Tuesday.
‘And it never has been,’ added Bugli…
Jim Olson with the Ravalli County Fish & Wildlife Association has been fighting to get the road opened for about 10 years with the help of the Public Land/Water Access Association and a group of retired foresters. He noted that the Hughes Creek Road families have a right to pursue their legal options, but added that the Montana Supreme Court tends to rule in favor of public access on public roads.
‘They’ve had that road to themselves for 40 years and don’t want to give it up. Maybe this is what it has to be to finalize this,’ Olson said. ‘But there may be public benefit down the road. Talking to some of the PLWA members, Montana’s Supreme Court has been friendly toward them in cases like this.’ ”