“My client not only owns the land under the Ruby River in Montana. He owns the water in the river and the air above it. So, no member of the public has the right to be on the river running through Mr. Kennedy’s property without his permission.” This is what I heard the lawyer for James Cox Kennedy say at the Montana Supreme Court hearing in Bozeman on April 29.
Although it might sound ludicrous, we shouldn’t take such claims lightly. There are many powerful individuals and organizations that would like to prove Kennedy’s lawyer correct.
The Public Land and Water Access Association is taking it very seriously. We have established the Stream Access Defense Fund to protect our right to access streams from public bridges and to float both navigable and non-navigable rivers and streams.
Let me remind you that PLWA is an all volunteer organization. No one in PLWA is on salary or commission. Your contribution will go directly to protecting stream access.
We have been in this Ruby river legal conflict for almost ten years. That’s when Kennedy placed electric fences on the bridge abutments and over the water. It has been an expensive and lonely fight. The state has not joined us in our lawsuit.
If anyone believes our stream access law is unimportant, all they need to do is look at states such as Wyoming or Colorado (where neither you nor any of your equipment can touch private land below the water) to realize our state of Montana is the champion of public stream access in the United States.
The purpose of this letter is to ask your help in defending our stream access law by making a contribution to our Stream Access Defense Fund.
PLWA will continue to be obligated to pay legal defense bills even though amicus briefs have been filed by Trout Unlimited and to a very limited extent by the State of Montana. We expect Kennedy and his allies, the United Property Owners of Montana and the PERC organization to try and move this case into the Federal Court System. Our law firm, the Goetz Firm of Bozeman, plans to continue the fight all the way. We are quite sure there will be an infusion of “Dark Money” into the other side’s coffers even though Kennedy himself is a billionaire.
PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN !
John Gibson, President of Public Land/Water Access Association