Hard to access public lands have become a hot topic lawmakers are trying to solve at the Montana legislature. Senate Bill 262 would allow complaints of closed roads to go through county commissioners to determine whether or not certain roads are being closed unlawfully. The bill aims to address the issue of checkerboard lands, which wedge public lands between private lands making them hard to get to.
Democratic Sen. Edie McClafferty is the sponsor of the bill.
"You know, it’s just about public access, and we need to make sure that our sportsmen, actually all the citizens of Montana, have the access to our public lands," McClafferty says.
Democratic Rep. Tom Jacobson introduced two bills dealing with the conflict over accessing public lands through private roads. Those died after their first readings. McClafferty says her bill is different from those two bills because there isn’t a fine associated with it.
The Senate Highways and Transportation Committee will hear testimony on the bill Tuesday.
Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.