Montana Governor Pushes Public Access

Legislative wrangling at its finest: Montana’s governor Schweitzer and pro-access representatives are lassoing opponents who are attempting to keep new legislation from active debate. Yesterday Schweitzer said “This is simple. This is the peoples’ right to fish and recreate on our rivers.” Schweitzer wants to prohibit further spending by Montana counties on bridges that obstruct public access to state waters. Calling his amendment to the bridge spending bill “a bull and boats bill,” Schweitzer wants to clarify a seven-year-old court opinion that confirmed Montanans’ right to access to all public waters where they are crossed by county bridges.
Though everyone knows that clear legislative direction rarely comes from arguments pitting private landowners against access rights activists, the debate now centers on a simple issue: whether private landowners can connect impassable fences to bridges. “What this boils down to is fences. And after months of study, amendments, hearings, meetings, debates, arguments, rallies and discreet hallway discussion, no one can agree on how to describe a fence that would allow fishermen to get through while keeping in cattle.” Dan Testa on
Meanwhile Schweitzer is also blasting BLM plans to reduce water flows into the Bighorn river.
(Thanks to reader Luca Adelphia for this story.)

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