The Hughes Creek Road in Ravalli County was illegally gated for decades. Landowners blocked the road with gates, threatening signs, and even machinery, essentially giving themselves exclusive access to hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands. The issue has gone to the courts, including the Montana District and Supreme Courts, and the rulings have always been the same: the road must be opened to the public. It’s a public road.
Despite the rulings, the illegal gate remained, and bullying continued until just recently, after legal action was taken by PLWA against the Ravalli County commissioners, forcing them to act. During all of this, there were little to no consequences for the landowners who illegally blocked the road. To this day, not a single fine has been levied.
It’s incredibly frustrating, and we’re seeing this same story play out across Montana.
Read more from the Missoulian here...