Our Montana Trout Unlimited partners have informed us that Senate Bill 497 (SB 497) has made its way to the senate floor after an expedited hearing this past Monday. This bill, which needs to pass two votes by Friday, works to chip away at laws that protect public access through removing the public's legal counsel from recouping attorney fees if victorious in the court of law, and by adding a five-year clock on prescriptive easements marked by government signage.
Combined, this would create a situation where the public is forced to defend - one at a time - an overwhelming number of public trails and roads, all while incurring great legal expenses which cannot be recouped.
Threats to Montana public access are presented in the form of many complex bills, like SB 497, that work to slowly erode and weaken laws that protect public lands and access to them. Understanding that conservation is dependent on public access to lands and waters that are important to recreationists, BHRA asks its supporters to join us in opposing this bill following the below instructions.
To take action, Montana residents are asked to contact their local state senator, either by phone or email, to express opposition to SB 497.
Montana residents can find their appropriate state senate contact representative by finding their place of residence on the map at this link, then clicking near their home address for Senator's contact information. Listed below are State Sen. contacts for the Billings and Fort Smith areas.
Sen. Dennis Lenz Phone: (406) 671-7052
Fort Smith/Hardin Sen. Jason Small Phone: (406) 690-0923 Email: Jason.Small@legmt.gov
Out of state residents can also share opposition for this bill by calling or emailing the below State Senators:
Sen. Greg Hertz
Sen. Pat Flowers
We thank our supporters for taking quick action on this matter that can affect public access!