Monday, February 7, 2011

Montana Stream Access Law: Here We Go AGAIN!!

RE:HB 309

The bill effectively repeals the Mitchell Slough decision that upheld Montanans' rights to float, fish, and enjoy our rivers and streams. HB 309 aims to limit Montanans' right to access the public waters of our streams and rivers by more broadly defining irrigation ditches.

The 2008 Montana Supreme Court decision unanimously ruled that Mitchell Slough in the Bitterroot Valley is a natural stream and therefore open to public recreation under the state's stream access law.

In other words, Montanans have the right to fish, wade or float the stream so long as they are below the high-water mark, even if it passes through private property. HB 309 seeks to elliminate such access to a number of streams by defining them as private irrigation ditches.

HB 309, sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Wellburn (R-Dillon), has its hearing Thursday, 1/27 in House Agriculture Committee.

The Committe voted 13 for, 8 opposed on Thursday, 2/3 so the bill is now headed to the House floor.

Contact your representative and tell them to uphold the Montana Supreme Court decision and maintain public access to the public waters of our streams and rivers.

First Debbie Barrett, long a thorn in Montana hunters and fishers hides and now Jeffrey Wellborn...Makes you wonder when the sportsmen and women of Beaverhead County (Dillon) are ever going to wake up and vote these trouble-making, self-serving yahoos back out into the private sector where they belong.
Fishing, particularly fly fishing, is a large part of the local economy. While I'm certainly no economist I'd be surprised if in actual dollars dropped in local businesses...restaurants, motels, lodges, B&Bs, grocery stores, fly shops, gas stations, etc., etc...by visiting fisherfolk doesn't rival or exceed that of the ag community.
Regardless if it weren't for the stream access law fishing dollars would certainly be a drop in the bucket to what they are now and a lot of local businesses would feel the heat...
Besides just what in the hell is the problem anyway...fishermen aren't "stealing" the water just "fishing it"...
Get a life or better yet get ya a fishin pole and join in the fun...over and out...Chuck
PS Thanks to Josh Bergan for the heads up...

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