Roads on National Forest and BLM Lands

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PLWA’s mission and the focus of our efforts is to gain access to the boundaries of public lands and waters. This includes fighting road closures where private parties block legal rights- of -way to the boundaries.

However, PLWA normally does not get involved in the decisions by Federal agencies in regard to which roads inside public land boundaries are open or closed , or what public uses are allowed on those roads – usually referred to as “travel plans” . This is their area of jurisdiction. These are important decisions, and while many groups engage these issues, PLWA is usually the only one leading the charge to gain access to the boundary. We are not saying the agencies are always right with their Travel Plans, but our mission is to get you to the public land in the first place. (Successful legal action on Bullwhacker Road in Blaine County is an example of PLWA action. A legal public road coming into the Missouri River Breaks from the north side of the Missouri Breaks National Monument was gated by the owner of a private in-holding, thus privatizing access to more than 30,000 acres of public land. The gate also privatized access to some of the Best Bighorn Sheep range in the Monument. )

One exception to our focus is when agency travel plans inside the public land area will materially benefit a few adjacent landowners who have exclusive access to the boundary. An example is the practice of agencies allowing interior roads to remain open when the public has no access to the public land boundary. This creates an incentive for private landowners to close off boundary access and thus gain exclusive road access inside the public land.

Another exception is when legally established “county roads” exist within the boundaries of national public lands. This is somewhat unusual, but does exist. Like any other county road, PLWA will contest unnecessary closures of this type.

Also keep in mind, private property and private roads can exist within the boundaries of federal public lands. Private owners have the right to close these roads in some cases.

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.

TERMS OF USE
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.