Anti-Gianforte public access bill deserves action in Montana Legislature

Legislation would increase fines for blocking access to public lands and streams
HELENA – Just months after Montanans learned that New Jersey multimillionaire Greg Gianforte sued the people of Montana to block public stream access, Rep. Tom Jacobson of Great Falls, introduced HB 295 that would increase fines for gating roads and blocking access to Montana’s public lands and streams.

The legislation is one of many bills Montana Democrats are pushing for this legislative session to stop people like Greg Gianforte from blocking access to public lands and streams.

"Montana Democrats stand with sportsmen and women and will not tolerate attempts to block access to Montana’s public lands, streams and rivers,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “This bill is one step forward in ensuring that millionaires like Mr. Gianforte don’t fence Montanans out of their public lands and rivers."

 Gianforte, who recently announced that he will seek the U.S. House seat, came under fire last year when it surfaced that he sued the state of Montana to eliminate a popular public access easement to the East Gallatin River.

Documents from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks showed Gianforte “fenced the easement and actively excluded the public from access this property.”

Rep. Jacobson’s bill takes a step toward stopping out-of-state millionaires like Gianforte from blocking public access by increasing fines for owners who fence off public rights of way. 

 Gianforte has a long record of blocking public access and working to undo Montana’s stream access laws:

  • Montana FWP wrote that Gianforte "fenced the easement and actively excluded the public from accessing this property"
  • Gianforte filed a lawsuit against the people of Montana to eliminate a public stream access easement near his property.
  • Gianforte donated to groups that worked to undo Montana's stream access laws and want to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder.
  • Gianforte  criticized Montana's Fish, Wildlife, & Parks department for working to expand access.
  • Gianforte said he would not support transferring federal lands to the state “at this time” leaving the door open for a future transfer of federal lands to the state.

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