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New Access Law Builds Bridges


Fri May 29 00:00:00 MDT 2009

A new state law that won bipartisan support among Montana lawmakers is already rebuilding bridges among landowners and anglers.

House Bill 190, which establishes rules for public access to rivers at county-road bridges, resolved longstanding stream access and livestock control concerns. While the law allows landowners to continue the common practice of stringing livestock fence lines at a bridge, it also obligates FWP to build gates or other structures in a manner that provides public access yet still restrains livestock.

A new cooperative access structure has already been built near a bridge on the Dearborn River south of Great Falls; and two more are scheduled to be built at bridges on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando, and on the Blackfoot River near Helmville.

"It's heartening to see that the hard work of lawmakers, stockgrowers, and anglers is already creating good will," said Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "Together we’re rebuilding bridges of cooperation, providing public access to Montana's rivers and streams, and safeguarding Montana livestock."

The law also outlines how landowners and FWP can resolve disputes, and ultimately provides FWP steps to follow to install an access structure if an agreement can't be reached amicably.

For information on the access at bridges program, contact your nearest FWP office.