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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Montana landowners try to reduce angler access to streams

FISHING - Ranchers unhappy with Montana's stream access law are moving a bill through the Legislature that tinkers with rules that allow access to public waters via irrigation ditches, according to an Associated Press report.

Anglers are opposing the measure.

The Republican majority in the House mustered up enough votes Wednesday to endorse the measure 55-44.. The bill opens up an issue decided by the Supreme Court in 2008 declaring that a slough that runs through the Bitterroot Valley property of 1980s rocker Huey Lewis and others is a public waterway and open to recreational use under the state stream access law.

The state's stream access law says that Montana rivers and streams are open to all if reached from public property, even if they eventually flow through private land.

Sen. Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings, said House Republicans are turning their backs on sportsmen and anglers, but predicted the bill could be stopped in the Senate.

"I think there's a coalition who will stand up for Montana's sportsmen and women," Van Dyk said. "The House GOP's actions today are par for the course. The monkeys have gotten a hold of the zookeeper's keys over there."

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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