FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2015
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, Governor’s Office, 444-9725
John Grassy, Communications Director, DNRC, 444-0465
HELENA, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock today secured access to 50,000 acres of public land on the Rocky Mountain Front. It was secured through the unanimous State Land Board approval of an agreement to restore public access across the Salmond Ranch in Teton County to state and federal lands in the Deep Creek area of the Rocky Mountain Front.
“The right to access our public lands is something Montanans hold dear. Through this decision, we’re ensuring access to 50,000 acres of public lands that was previously in question,” Bullock said. “Today’s agreement shows that when we work together—landowners, sportsmen, and public entities—to find solutions, we can build a path that respects both private property and public access rights.”
Bullock commended all involved in this solution for their hard work toward resolution of the issue.
The road access issue dates back to 1930, when Frank Salmond offered Teton County a right-of-way to ensure public access, in exchange for the county closing Road 380. However, in 1989, the Salmond family posted “No Trespassing” signs on the road. In 2012, the Salmond family brought a quiet title action seeking to clarify public access on the road. That same year, Teton County, the Montana DNRC, and Great Falls resident Randall Knowles intervened, arguing the road was public.
As part of the settlement, the Salmond family agreed to a new access road along the edge of its holdings. DNRC agreed to pay for a new public parking area and to maintain weed control along the new route. Once complete on October 1st of this year, the road will be accessible from July 1 through December 31st of every year. Negotiations on today’s agreement took three years to complete.
Bullock has long been a champion of access for Montanans to public lands and waterways. He drafted the landmark opinion that secured access to Montana’s public rivers and streams.