It is Over. The controversy on the Ruby River, a legal battle that that has continued for nearly twenty years, has finally been resolved. The last date for either side to appeal the case to a higher court has passed.
The latest verdict from the District Court establishing a 47 foot easement at the Seyler Lane Bridge has not been appealed to either the Montana Supreme Court or into the Federal Court system and the deadline for such an appeal has come and gone. The outcome favors the Public Land and Water Access Association in every case. There were three roads involved. Two were County Roads. One was established by prescription. At the end, the public can access the Ruby River at all three bridges as they cross the Ruby. The District Court established that the easement on the county roads was 60 feet wide and extended right across the river and the public could use that easement to access the water.
Seyler Lane, however, was a public road by public prescription but the judge acknowledged that if the county was responsible for safety, the easement would have to be wide enough to allow for inspection and repair of the bridge. The result was the granting of a 47 foot easement. That too was wide enough to allows for public access to the river.
Some might recall the lawyer for the landowner testifying before the Montana Supreme Court with the claim that his client owned the bottom of the river, the water in the river and the air above the river. And no one could be on that river when it passed through his property without his permission.
As you might recall the court told him he was all wet. (with public water).