11 April 2007

Montana Bridge Access: Republican Smoke & Mirrors

Montana state representative Mike Milburn (R-Cascade) is playing games with the public's right to access streams and rivers at bridges on public roads. This delay tactic will simply postpone the issue while increasing tensions for anglers and other members of the public who enjoy Montana's streams and rivers.

Representative Milburn has drafted a "study measure" (Lc 2576) of bridge access. Why don't Rep Milburn and his cronies believe the Montana Attorney General's ruling on this matter? Why are Rep Milburn and his cronies catering to lawyers who represent elitist out-of-state landowners who wish to exclude the public?

This is an insult to the public, and appears to be a way for Milburn, Michael Lange (R-Billings), Scott Sales (R-Bozeman), Tom McGillvray (R-Billings), and Gary MacLaren (R-Victor) to cover their ass. They all claim to support bridge and stream access, and yet they have manipulated the political process to kill good Bridge Access bills such as SB 78 (2007) and HB 560 (2005). This issue has been studied to death, the Attorney General has given a legal interpretation, and the path ahead is clear: PASS A DAMNED BILL THAT CODIFIES THE PUBLIC'S RIGHT!

This is not fundamentally a partisan issue and should not be made into one. Republican leaders in the Montana Senate supported SB 78. Many landowners, anglers, and other recreationists -- irrespective of their party affiliation -- support the public's right to access streams at public bridges. And do note that the leading proponent of fencing out the public is James Cox Kennedy--a wealthy Democrat from Atlanta, Georgia.

Why then, have Mike Milburn and other house representatives become the lapdogs of wealthy anti-access nonresidents such as James Cox Kennedy?

Because anglers and recreationists have elected them, and have allowed them to do this!

Voters need to let these rascals know how they feel. If they don't drop Milburn's silly "let's study the issue" delaying tactic, them vote them out of office.

Here are some representatives in leadership positions to contact regarding this issue:

And, representatives on the House Fish & Game Committee:

Thanks to Larry Copenhaver at the Montana Wildlife Federation for letting me know about Milburn's ploy. Looks like we all need to help raise money for PLAAI to press the Bridge Access court case.

No comments: