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House Bill 309 is an attempt to modify Stream Access Law in Montana by modifying the term ‘ditch.’ Montana has one of the best Stream Access Laws in the Country, it is about to be stripped if we do not act now.
FOAM (Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana) has these strong opposition points to House Bill 309:
1) A live, flowing braid or channel can be defined as a ditch if there is any kind of control structure at the head of the live channel, including ‘natural features incorporated into the water conveyance system’;
2) Recreational access is available only with landowner’s permission on water bodies created at least in part by waters diverted from a natural water body where the diverted water is the principal source of water in the water body – think about low flows in August and September and the many Montana rivers and streams with side channels and braids that have diversion structures on them where return flow could be considered the ‘principle source of water’ in the river or stream.
#2 above could potentially turn side-channels of rivers, streams, and possibly whole rivers into ditches where recreational use is allowed only with landowner permission.
This Bill if passed will be a huge detriment for recreational fishing on Southwest Montana’s Rivers and Streams. The hearing for house Bill 309 is Tuesday, March 8 in room 303 (Old Supreme Court Chambers in Helena) starting at 3:00p.m. Be there to speak your voice!
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