Bozeman Chronicle wrong to suggest suing landowners to take property

In its August 1 editorial (“Governor’s new office must focus on access“), the Chronicle calls on Governor Bullock to sue private landowners in order to take their property for recreational purposes for the public.  It’s an absurd, undemocratic, illiberal, and ultimately unconstitutional notion. The Chronicle claims that we are losing public access to landowners “who throw up gates across traditional public access roads and trails.”  That’s not true.  It’s illegal to gate a public road or trail, and gates put up illegally—maliciously, or more likely by mistake—are removed. What the Chronicle really meant to say in its editorial is that it believes the state should begin confiscating roads and trails that are privately owned but that are desirable...

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Shawn Regan on a better way to promote public access

No one likes when landowners slap up “No Trespassing” signs and block access. But with access disputes back in the news, it’s time to confront the possibility that our current strategies to promote public access aren’t solving the problem — they’re making it worse. Access disputes boil down to a simple fact: Whether over concerns about privacy, liability, or risk of abuse by a few bad actors, landowners are often reluctant to grant strangers open access to their private property. But when it comes to trying to enhance access, we often go about it the wrong way. Public-access groups pursue confrontational approaches that make enemies out of the very landowners they need to engage most. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Consider the sharing economy, which is revolutionizing the way people...

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Terry Anderson on the Forest Service Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz scandal

Excellent commentary from PERC’s Terry Anderson on the scandal caused by National Park Ranger Alex Seinkiewicz, who urged enviro activists to trespass on private property: For the eight years that President Barack Obama reigned in Washington, environmentalists cheered his agenda. There was his War on Coal, his signing of the Paris Climate Accord, his executive order giving EPA regulatory authority over all Waters of the United States (WOTUS), and his creation of more national monuments than any previous president. “With President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, conservatives in favor of less government regulation are cheering. In a matter of months he has declared war on the War on Coal, withdrawn the United States from the Paris Accord, rescinded the WOTUS executive order...

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UPOM releases 2017 Legislative Scorecard

We are proud to report that this session saw positive outcomes for improving Montanan’s property rights. “We were able to enact several positive changes that protect and enhance our property rights,” said Chuck Denowh, UPOM’s Policy Director.  “And we successfully stopped every piece of legislation that attempted to take away our rights.” Click here to download the scorecard.

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UPOM Comments on EQC HJ 13 Road & Access Study

The Environmental Quality Council has spent a good part of their time during the interim in putting together a study to assess access on public land in Montana, in particular on how road closures on federal land have affected access.  Their study also looks at elk distribution and how less access may have affected elk harvests.  A copy of the draft report can be found here. And below you can read the comments that we submitted to the committee:

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What the Missoula Mountain Water case means for other Montana property owners

The recent decision by the Montana Supreme Court in the Mountain Water case, in which the Court reversed itself from an earlier decision, has set new precedents that weaken the property rights for all Montanans.  It’s apparent to us that the decision was more politically motivated than grounded in the law—and we’re not alone, Justice Jim Rice described the Court’s conduct as “apparently hell-bent on condemnation” in his dissenting opinion. This is an example of why Montana’s Supreme Court is ranked so poorly nationally.  Each time it reverses itself—and it does so often, hundreds of times in the last two decades—it creates more uncertainty about what the law really is.  And when the Court is viewed as a political animal—active in creating law rather than...

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