Property Rights for All

This article from the Property & Environment Research Center addresses that.

An excerpt.

“On April 29, the Montana Supreme Court will convene at Montana State University to hear the case of Public Lands Access Association, Inc. v. The Board of County Commissioners of Madison County, et al. This hearing will afford all MSU students, whether from in-state or out-of-state, an opportunity to see our justice system in action.

“The openness of our legal system is especially important in this case. The plaintiff, now calling itself the Public Lands/Water Access Association (PLWA), challenges the legality of Madison County’s resolution to permit James Kennedy, a landowner from Georgia, to attach a private wood rail fence to a bridge across the Ruby River.

“Beyond the legal technicalities, this case is about the rights of a private landowner to limit access to his property. PLWA portrays itself as David—a local, citizen sportsmen group—against Goliath—a wealthy, out-of-state landowner. In fact, this is a long-standing campaign by the association, dressed up in public interest clothing, to gain access to waterways across the state even if access means trespassing. Since the stream access judicial and legislative battles began in the 1980s, the question has been whether public access constitutes a taking of private property rights without compensation.

“Secure private property rights are the bulwark of equality and justice in the United States. The blindfolded statue of Lady Justice holding her balance symbolizes our rule of law. Ours is not justice for hunters versus bird watchers, poor versus rich, or Montanans versus Georgians; it is “justice for all.”

“Moreover, private ownership is the key to good resource stewardship, something we all want to encourage. Put it this way, no one washes a rental car—except the rental car company. Across Montana, private landowners provide habitat for big game, birds, fish, and plants, and open spaces that we call Big Sky Country. With 66 percent of all Montana land and an even greater percentage of riparian land under private ownership, no one, not even members of PLWA, doubts that private owners provide fish and wildlife habitat, which benefits all of us.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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