12 April 2007

Governor Schweitzer wades into Bridge Access issue

Montana's Governor Schweitzer has long supported public Stream Access. It was an important part of his commitment to anglers and other river recreationists during his campaign, and he has remained steadfast on this position.

Outraged that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives killed SB 78 (the Bridge Access bill), Governor Schweitzer has tacked an amendment to HB 426, a bill that helps fund county work on roads and bridges. The amendment states that counties may not spend state money on a bridge if that bridge does not provide public access.

Schweitzer explains, "I'm just protecting the rights of Montana's citizens... We're going to provide public dollars for working on bridges that cross streams, and people have a constitutional right to access those streams. We couldn't violate people's constitutional rights."

The Governor's move has outraged Republican representatives such as Mike Milburn (R-Cascade). Milburn, let's remember, is the chair of the House Fish & Game Committee, and the guy who dicked the public around in a sham public hearing on SB 78 last week.

Will Republican legislators now cut off the counties' noses to spite the public's face? We'll see. Again, to quote Governor Schweitzer, "There are members of the House that probably regret voting against the interests of Montana's sportsmen. This will give them the opportunity to vote with sportsmen."

See Gwen Florio, "Stream access push not dead yet," Great Falls Tribune http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070412/NEWS01/704120303.

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