Oped: Law can’t trample on private property rights

Excerpt from an opinion by PERC’s Terry Anderson on the upcoming Montana Supreme Court hearing on stream access: The openness of our legal system is especially important in this case. The plaintiff, now calling itself the Public Lands/Water Access Association, challenges the legality of Madison County’s resolution to permit James Kennedy, a landowner from Georgia, to attach a private wood rail fence to a bridge across the Ruby River. Beyond the legal technicalities, this case is about the rights of a private landowner to limit access to his property. PLWA portrays itself as David—a local, citizen sportsmen group—against Goliath—a wealthy, out-of-state landowner. In fact, this is a long-standing campaign by the association, dressed up in public-interest clothing, to gain access to...

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PLWA distorts truth in Letter to Editor

UPOM President Mark Robbins responds to a letter to the editor in the Helena IR this week: Tony Schoonen says Madison County landowner James C. Kennedy has been in court since 2009 trying to destroy stream access (Helena IR, 4/10/13). Schoonen also claims that when Public Land/Water Access (PLWA) sued Kennedy and sponsored a “float-in,” Jim Kennedy had electrified fences at the bridge. Judge Tucker didn’t see it that way when he dismissed PLWA’s legal claims against Jim Kennedy’s fences.  In fact, the court record proves that the fences that PLWA litigated and protested were made of wood posts and rails, not electric wire.  The judge said Jim Kennedy’s fences were lawful in all respects and did not block any public travel right, based in large part on testimony from...

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Billings Gazette: State Supreme Court to hear appeal of stream access ruling

The Montana Supreme Court will hear a case next month that could have far-ranging effects on Montana’s stream access laws. In April 2012, District Judge Loren Tucker ruled that public use of Seyler Lane didn’t guarantee the public access to the Ruby River from a bridge on that road. The bridge is near Twin Bridges, about 50 miles southeast of Butte.

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Oped: Is stream access law doomed?

From an opinion by former state Rep. Diane Rice, of Harrison, appearing in today’s Montana Standard: Is stream access doomed? That is the question sportsmen are whispering across Big Sky Country, as a special interest group pushes a bridge access case it lost through the state appellate court. … In a rare 9-0 decision in PPL v. Montana, SCOTUS summarily struck down the legal theory Montana used to assert rights in streambeds. What’s more, it reasserted a bright line rule that the original stream access cases dismissed: Montana can’t assert ownership-type control over streambeds it doesn’t own — period.

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Missoulian: Property rights, conservation groups join Montana stream access lawsuit

Conservative property rights groups and conservation organizations have become involved in the bitter, eight-year legal fight over access to Montana streams from bridges. Two conservative groups – the United Property Owners of Montana and the Political Economy Research Center – have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case between a sportsmen’s group and Madison County. In addition, Montana Trout Unlimited has entered the fray on the other side to support the Public Lands Access Association in the case.

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