LA Times: Supreme Court deals setback to rails-to-trails movement

“The Supreme Court dealt a setback Monday to the popular redevelopment trend of transforming abandoned railroad lines into public bike paths, ruling that buyers of such lands are not required to continue granting a federal right of way… “In an 8-1 decision, the justices ruled in favor of Marvin Brandt, a Wyoming man who controls 83 acres of land that was formerly used by the Wyoming and Colorado Railroad, located near the Medicine Bow National Forest. When the U.S. Forest Service told Brandt that the government retained the railroad’s right of way across his land and planned to use it for a bike trail, he filed suit. “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 gave the rail lines a temporary easement across the land, but once...

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Oped: Access for all but stewardship for not

By Terry L. Anderson and Reed Watson of PERC When the Montana Constitution was rewritten in 1972, no one would have thought that the clause stating all waters “are the property of the State for the use of its people” would lead to an erosion of private property rights to land. But it has as Montana’s activist Supreme Court has used the clause to favor stream access over private property rights. … With landowners outraged by the ruling, the legislature tried to slow the erosion of property rights in 1985 by passing the “Stream Access Law.” The law limits recreation to activities such as fishing, hunting, swimming and floating and limits access to areas between the high water marks, specifically excluding irrigation ditches. It also limits access across posted private property to gain...

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Oped: Stream access decision bad news for landowners

By Senator Debby Barrett The Montana Supreme Court’s recent ruling on an important stream access case represents an alarming expansion of access law at the detriment of property rights. But despite headlines announcing a win for stream access, the court all but ignored the 1,000-pound gorilla in the case: whether Montana’s stream access law is constitutional. Ultimately, if the appellants are successful in appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, the case may yet prove to restore the property rights that were taken from Montana landowners 30 years ago.

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Montana landowners react to Supreme Court decision on road easements

Opportunity to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Montana stream access law Montanans awoke today to find their Constitutional property rights further eroded by the Montana Supreme Court, which has upended over 100 years of established road law in a new decision released today. The implications of the ruling are far reaching for landowners throughout the state and a serious blow to the right of Montanans to own, use, and enjoy their property. The decision could ultimately lead to a bigger win for landowners, however, because it may give an opportunity to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the larger issue of the Constitutionality of Montana’s stream access law. In a dissent to the decision, Justice Laurie McKinnon noted that the Montana Court had to import prescriptive road law...

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UPOM Comment on BLM RMP

Below is a copy of the comment that UPOM submitted for the BLM RMP on Sage Grouse protection and management: The United Property Owners of Montana, which represents over three million acres of privately-owned land in Montana, encourage you to accept the following comments and consider extending the period for public comment in regards to the proposed BLM RMP and the corresponding DEIS. Despite the attempts of many of our members to discern the exact impact that the BLM RMP would have regarding their individual land holdings, they have found that the amount of information provided by the BLM in regards to the specific areas affected and the extent to which those areas are affected is severely lacking. The current plan omits essential details that would enable the public to substantively...

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Oped: FWP should stop free-roaming bison plan

The Montana Department Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is on a strange mission to impose a free-roaming bison herd in Eastern Montana.  It’s puzzling because it’s a plan that few Montanans want, and a large, diverse majority oppose.  Yet, inexplicably, Governor Bullocks’ administration and FWP Director Jeff Hagener seem determined to give us a dose of a bitter medicine we don’t want or need. The opposition to free-roaming couldn’t have been more evident at a recent FWP meeting on the issue in Lewistown.  One after another, ranchers, sportsmen, farmers, local business owners, and others voiced their objections to FWP’s proposal to move bison from Yellowstone National Park to an undisclosed location in Eastern Montana. They spoke loud and clear that free roaming bison would be an economic hardship;...

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