Looks like the Stockgrowers opposition was far from fatal-

The bill passed 95-5. It must also go to the Montana Senate.

River access bill gets overwhelming support in House. Proposal could be on its way to the Senate as early as today. By JENNIFER McKEE. Billings Gazette State Bureau

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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.

6 Responses to River access bill gets overwhelming support in Montana's House

  1. avatar jdubya says:

    Meanwhile a law in the Utah legislature (yet to be published much less debated) appears to be focused on taking away the angler access to streams and rivers awarded by a unanimous Utah supreme court ruling last summer. What a difference in attitude between these two western states.

  2. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    Jdubya

    This is a public trust issue. What was the reasoning of the Utah Supreme Court to the contrary?

    RH

  3. avatar jdubya says:

    Robert, this was a case of the Utah supreme court ruling in favor of a couple of tubers that were floating down the Weber River in Utah. They were arrested for trespass and the case made it to the supreme court. Their ruling opened all rivers and streams for public access basically saying the state owns the water in the stream bed and thus owns the stream bed itself. The people are the state, thus as long as we stay in the stream bed, have fun. The law(s) coming out of the legislature this year will attempt to either completely over-ride this ruling, or modify it to only include a set list of rivers. You can read more about the ruling here:

    http://inconnu.islug.org/~lackkevi/AccessAppeal.pdf

  4. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    My understanding of the public trust, and I’ve done some research on the question, is that the USC’s ruling is correct and that the bill you describe the Legislature as working on to overrule the judicial decision could itself be challenged as a violation of the public trust.

    RH

  5. avatar jdubya says:

    Robert, I agree. There are potentially two bills floating around on this issue, neither submitted yet. One would try to completely reverse the decision and one to limit access to a number of named rivers. I would prefer the former because it would be unconstitutional under the Utah law, it would be unconstitutional under US Supreme court rulings, and the gov would likely veto. The latter would be more problematic.

  6. avatar Robert Hoskins says:

    J Dubya

    I don’t know of a public trust scholar at the U of Utah law school, but Dale Goble at the U of Idaho law school is. Someone to keep in mind as this proceeds. Good luck.

    RH

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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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