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Stream access law still under attack in southwest Montana

Stream access law still under attack in southwest Montana

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There will be a crucial Supreme Court hearing in Bozeman, April 29, in the Strand Union Ballroom. The oral arguments will start at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude that morning. The Montana Supreme Court will consider if a Madison County Judge erred when he ruled that the public cannot use certain county bridges to access Montana streams.

If the Supreme Court sides with the Madison County Judge, then it will be a major erosion on Montana Stream Access rights. If recreational users of our public waters can afford time from work to attend the hearing, it would be very enlightening on what wealthy non-residents are trying to do throughout Montana.

James Cox Kennedy, a billionaire media mogul from Atlanta, is busy overturning access to Montana streams from county and prescriptive rights-of-way as well as public bridges. Kennedy has been in court in Madison County since 2009 regarding these issues. He owns property bordering the Ruby River from Sheridan to the confluence with the Beaverhead River. He doesn’t want locals and their families to fish on “his” river.

Our groups sponsored a Ruby River float a few years back to force removal of electric wires across the river. Nearly 200 participants attended to help send a message to Kennedy that floating the Ruby River is legal.

Two groups have entered into the lawsuit on Kennedy’s side: PERC- the Property and Environment’s Research Center, headquartered in Bozeman, and the United Property Owners of Montana. Both groups, in our opinion, would like to see everything in private hands.

Montana Trout Unlimited has filed an amicus brief on our side. They represent all of Trout Unlimited in Montana. Support your Trout Unlimited chapters and recreational access groups. Numbers make a huge difference.

All of our groups need to send a clear message that “the rights of the many shall not be trampled on for the benefit of the very few.”

We Montanans own our public waters, which are gold mines. Let’s just give the mega-rich the shaft.

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