Residents of Rock Creek, MT fight back against Oregon developer

This is a microcosm of what is going on all over the West — out-of-state developer comes in; local residents are no longer passive, and they fight back.

Read about the Rock Creek struggle (Rock Creek is one of the most famous fishing streams in the West).

Unfortunately, and there has been little publicity so far, a New York developer and libertarian organizations have used paid signature gatherers to get a ballot initiative this fall in almost every Western state. This initiative basically says abolish all your laws regulating land use, or pay (usually a developer) for the diminishment of his or her land value (as when they can’t legally sub-divide agricultural land).

In Montana it is Initiative 154.

It is being advertised as a way to protect your property rights, but in fact the ones “protected” are those who are economically and politically powerful. For accuracy’s sake, these initiatives should be named “the bad neighbor empowerment act.”

Update, Great News on the Montana ballot initiatives!

Judge throws out ballot initiatives
Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

Judge says a “pervasive and general pattern of fraud” in signature gathering! Nevertheless, Idaho, Washington, California, and other Western states still have to face this sleazy attack on their land by these out-of-state forces. It could shake down the taxpayers for billions of dollars even as it abolishes all land use laws.

Update on Sept. 19. Courts strike down “property rights” initiative in three more states.”

Read about it in New West.






  1. Eileen Loerch Avatar

    Ralph, I agree with your assessment of the impact of these initiatives. I’m concerned there has been no organized resistance to the initiative in Idaho. What do you know about this?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan