Anglers Versus James Cox Kennedy: Ruby River Access in Peril

If there is one person in Montana who is single-handedly trying to wreck Montana’s stream access law and deny fishermen onto water they rightfully and legally can fish, it’s James Kennedy who’s a multi-millionaire from Atlanta and owns
ranches in Montana, one along southwest Montana’s Ruby River.

Here’s a story from the Montana Standard’s Nick Gevock that details Cox’s latest effort to privatize “his” river and keep the public out. To read the full story, including some intriguing background info, go to The Montana Standard.

A sportsmen’s group has appealed an April ruling by a judge that limits public access to streams from bridges on roads with historic prescriptive easements.

That same ruling, by Madison County District Judge Loren Tucker, has also prompted a fresh challenge to a law passed three years ago by the Legislature that guaranteed access to streams from bridges on most county roads.

The Public Lands Access Association filed its appeal this week in Virginia City district court of an April ruling by Tucker in a case that has dragged on for eight years. Tucker found that the public doesn’t have the right to access the Ruby River from Seyler Lane, which has a prescriptive easement on it after decades of use by public use. The area is near Twin Bridges, about 50 miles southeast of Butte.

Devlan Geddes, a Bozeman lawyer representing the PLAA, said they’re disappointed in the ruling but are ready to go to the state Supreme Court.

“We’re optimistic about our chances on appeal,” he said.

The ruling is the latest salvo in a bitter fight between sportsmen and James Cox Kennedy, a multi-millionaire media mogul from Atlanta who owns a ranch south of Twin Bridges in the Ruby Valley.

The PLAA sued Madison County in 2004 after Kennedy attached fences to two bridges over the Ruby River on his land. The group contended the county was responsible to maintain public access from county roads and shouldn’t allow fences to impede that access. Kennedy intervened in the case on behalf of the county.

Sportsmen contended the fencing was intended to keep READ MORE

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4 Responses to Anglers Versus James Cox Kennedy: Ruby River Access in Peril

  1. JB says:

    This is all poor and shitty, but beyond this – how is an angler to know if a road has a prescriptive easement? Is there a public record of this somewhere? Any landowner could simply claim the road has a prescriptive easement …. fug.

  2. Greg Thomas says:

    You said it. It confuses the laws, offers gray areas, gives the landowner all the power. The good thing is there is a law on the books, I believe, that protects sportsmen. It was probably put into place to keep animal activists out of the woods with horns. Basically, it’s a felony to harass sportsmen and I think any kind of get the f off my property, when an angler is fishing public water, constitutes harassment. I’ve played that card a couple times when I knew I was legal but the landowner was getting all western on me and they’ve piped down real fast. Got keep fighting for public water that is for sure.

  3. Kelly Garvey says:

    I was planning on a trip to Twin Bridges from Seattle in September. I have an old note in my desk (about 20 yrs old) from a Montana Sportsman who advised me that dry fly fishing on the Ruby was great. Finally, after pulling the note out of my desk for 2 decades, I was going to check it out. It sounds like Mr Kennedy is going to rain on my parade.

  4. Pingback: Ruby seyler | Sybaritejourna

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