The Passing of an Access Warrior – Jack Atcheson Sr.

On Wednesday, December 27, 2017, Jack Atcheson Sr., who was 85, peacefully passed away, in his home town of Butte.

Jack’s funeral will be January 4, 1:00 pm at St. Patrick’s Church, 329 W Mercury St, Butte, MT 59701

Tony Schoonen will be providing the eulogy.

In addition to being a hunter/angler, combat veteran and business owner, Jack Atcheson Sr. was a dedicated advocate for public lands and stream access in Montana.

In a PLWA interview on access, Jack passionately stated, “If we don’t keep it for the kid’s generation coming up, they’re losing it; they’re losing it almost everyday. Somebody has to fight, and I’m glad we’re all part of it.”

Jack’s access battling began on Oct. 1978, when three Montana hunters, one of which was Jack Atcheson Sr., were sharptail hunting in Malta, north of the Milk River, on BLM land. They tried to hunt the connected “blue colored” Montana state school trust lands section on the map, only to have the grazing lessee drive up in his pickup truck threatening them, “You guys get the hell off my land now!”

This incident sparked Atcheson’s quest to find out about these “blue” State school trust lands, joined by Tony Schoonen and later Jack Jones.

On March 31, 1980, Jack Atcheson Sr., Tony Schoonen, and Jack Jones formed and filed the Montana Coalition for Access on State Public Lands, Inc., funding their work out of their own pockets. The name would later be changed to Montana Coalition For Appropriate Management of State Lands, Inc. The Coalition led the charge for our state lands access.

Inspired by the State Lands Coalition, another coalition was formed, on April 14, 1980 – the Montana Coalition for Stream Access, Inc., which Jack was a member of. It was decided to first pursue Stream Access, which became law in 1985.

In 1985, the Public Land Access Association (PLAAI) was created to carry the banner, later embracing stream access, becoming Public Land/Water Access Association (PLWA). Jack was a PLWA Director from 2003 through 2007; and President of the association from 2003-2005.

In recognition of his hunting/angling conservation, Jack Atcheson Sr. won Outdoor Life Magazine’s Conservation Award, in 2000, for a “lifetime of achievement in the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat, and your tireless efforts on behalf of hunting and fishing access for American sportsmen.”

Continuing the fight for public lands/waters access, a warrior to the end, Jack wrote in 2016, “I’m pleased so many others picked up where we left off. Don’t give up. It’s amazing what a small group of sportsmen can achieve, if they try often.”

On the passing of Jack, PLWA Vice-President John Gibson lamented, “Jack was very instrumental in the fight for public access, especially in the background. I don’t think he got the credit he deserved, in the eyes of the public. We have lost too many of our founders recently. For access’ sake, I hope that we can replace some of these old warriors.”

There is a quote from Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

Jack Atcheson Sr. is one of the those access giants!

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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