Bills In Play To Improve Access To Public Lands
Montana legislators have introduced a pair of bills to improve public access to public lands by keeping public roads open.
The Montana Wildlife Federation and Public Land/Water Access Association are pushing the bills to address the growing problem of people blocking off large tracts of public land by gating public rights of way. The bills would ensure that they protect both public access to public land and wildlife and private property rights, said Dave Chadwick, federation executive director.
The first bill, HB 304 sponsored by Mitch Tropila, D-Great Falls, would increase the penalty already in state law for gating a public road from $10/day to $500/day.
The second bill, HB 286, would require that individuals wishing to close a public road contact officials and prove the road should be closed. A disputed road would have to remain open until it’s proven to be a private road.