Maligned Stream Access Bill Tabled in Committee

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The Montana Senate is tabling revisions to the state’s stream access law amid stiff opposition from anglers.

House Bill 309 reopened a simmering dispute over a slough running through the Bitterroot Valley property of 1980s rocker Huey Lewis and others. The courts ruled several years ago that the slough be open to fishermen under the state’s stream access law.

Ranchers and others had sought to make clear that irrigation ditches are not open to anglers wading streams. But anglers argued the legislative proposal would have closed to access more than just ditches.

The measure had cleared the House, only to face a large crowd of opponents in the Senate. It was tabled late Tuesday in an 8-3 vote in the Senate agriculture committee.

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