In the last several years Montana’s economy has turned really turned around after years of stagnation and growing inequality. During that time too more and more landowners have tried to block off the public from their streams.

Now Gov. Brian Schweitzer has come out strongly in favor of a proposed law that would require landowners who attach fences to county bridges to provide some form of access to the streams they cross, such as a gate, and stated that public access is essential to a strong economy. He is talking about “public property rights,” a word western Republicans are not fond of, and had fallen into disuse in the years of Republican control in Montana.

Governor says strong economy, public access linked. By Walt Williams. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

More . . . Update from the Denver Post. Unhappy to be stuck with you. Wealthy landowners want to bar fishing on Montana stream. By Charlie Meyers. Denver Post Outdoors Editor.

The stream access controversy has had a big internal impact on Trout Unlimited.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

4 Responses to Governor Schweitzer says public stream access needed to keep Montana's economy humming

  1. avatar Vicki says:

    Montana is on the mend. This can be largely attributed to it’s wide open spaces. People are starting to see that there is great value in the land that they choose to live on. They are waking up to the luxury of fewer high-rises and fresher air. Montana needs to serve as a model for other places. It needs to continue to be a leader in public awareness and use of public lands. Public funds pay for conservation. So the public has to be allowed access to those lands. There is no greater educator than Mother Nature. Let people into her classroom, they will walk out amazed, inspired, and ready to take on the challenge of saving the environment. We have to find ways to expose more people (especially children) to the joys of the outdoors. The only way that those of us who want to promote conservation can win this battle, is to involve those who don’t really have a concept of what wonders we are desperate to save. You can’t share that with them, if they can’t see it. And pictures, however realistic, don’t do justice.
    Ofcourse there is a direct link to economic stability. Montana has huge resources available to the public now. The public will continue to spend money in Montana to use those resources. That icludes tourists. Building gates is a small price to pay for the revenue that comes from the use of public lands.
    There is an increasingly evident pattern of success in economies that promote the conservation and public use of land. Conservation creates jobs. Employed citizens pay taxes. Taxes pay for conservation and exploration into alternative solutions to environment upheaval. That leads to more jobs, and so on.
    Way to think Mr. Governor. You are on the right track.

  2. avatar JEFF E says:

    Read the Denver Post article and look who’s name pops up. None other than James Watt, who had to step down as President Regan’s Sec. of Interior because of his kook ass policies. And the present dummy Kempthorne is/will be 10 times worse unless a concerted effort is made to margenilize him until we can run the pack of scumbags in the white house out of town.

  3. avatar Jerry H says:

    We sure could use Governor Schweitzer down here in Wyoming. Quite a few areas I used to go fishing, along with what was once public roads leading to the National Forest have been shut to the public because the moneyed people want it that way.
    It appears the entire United States is becoming a playground for the ultra rich and the rest of us are to be their servants.
    For proof, check out Jackson.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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