MONTANA SUPREMES UPHOLDS PUBLIC STEAM ACCESS!Big news coming out of Montana yesterday! The Montana Supreme Court voted 5-2 and overturned the district courts stream access verdict. The Supremes also rejected the argument of “takings” and “determine that the scope of use of the public road right-of-way is not limited to adverse usage through which it was acquired and that any foreseeable uses of a public road right-of-way, including recreational use, are permitted”.
The court also went on to say “Finally, Kennedy’s takings argument does not hold water,” the court majority said. “He presents no persuasive argument that a compensable property interest has been taken from him or that we should overturn our precedent and disrupt long-settled constitutional law”. Well done Montana!
PRESS RELEASE – from the Public Land/Water Access Association, January 16, 2014
RE: Montana Supreme Court opinion in PLWA v. Madison County, DA 12-0312
In a resounding victory for public access the Montana Supreme Court (the “Court”) assured public access to the Ruby River from bridges on land owned by Atlanta media mogul James Cox Kennedy. The Court affirmed Duncan Road and Lewis Lane - both established county roads - have a 60-foot wide public easement intersecting the high water mark of the river.
On Seyler Lane, the case was sent back to District Court with instructions to determine the width of the public road right-or-way which had been established by prescriptive use. Significantly, the Court held that once a prescriptive easement is established, access extends to all public uses including recreational use.
The Supreme Court justices rejected the District Court ruling that a secondary easement existed to accommodate maintenance by state and county crews and recognized recreation travel as a legitimate use to help qualify a road for prescriptive easement status.
The Court also emphatically upheld Montana’s stream access law, stating “that the State owns all the waters in trust for the People . . . and that a riparian owner takes his property interest subject to a dominant estate in favor of the public.Yellow Dog Flyfishing is proud to support the great folks and the ongoing efforts at PLWA. A of BIG thank you for all! They are working hard for all of us, we encourage you to please take a quick moment and send a note of thanks.