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Brian Schweitzer

Schweitzer limits access to private Mullan Pass ranch

Brian Schweitzer 67%

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HELENA - People no longer can freely recreate as they once did on 670 acres up Mullan Pass that are now owned by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, but they can drive past the property on a U.S. Forest Service road upgraded this year with about $330,000 in federal stimulus funds.

Shortly after purchasing the property in 2008, Schweitzer locked the gates on roads that access his property, installed a new fence along a road that passes through the property, and hung at least four bright red-and-white signs that read: "NO TRESPASSING. Jim (the last name is blanked out) no longer owns this ranch. Please respect my privacy. No hunting, fishing, snowmobiling or 4 wheeling. Do not enter."

Schweitzer said that chances are he'll allow people to hunt or snowmobile on his land if they ask for permission. Still, he's angry that the Forest Service improved the road, saying he purchased the three parcels up Hope Creek in 2008 because it's remote, and is clearly offended that members of the public are upset with the signs, gates and fences.

He notes that people are vandalizing his property and that it's part of Montana's ethos, the fundamental character of the state's culture, to request landowner permission before they cross someone's land.

"Last year I had cattle shot, last summer every gate on the ranch was torn down and the cabin was broken into several times," Schweitzer said. "Fish, Wildlife and Parks called me the year before and explained they had five people who poached elk, didn't have a hunting license and wanted to know if they had permission to be there. I never heard of any of those people. I didn't want to prosecute because I didn't want to get sideways in that, but if you want to hunt on a ranch you ask for permission."

The signs were erected right around the time Schweitzer was re-elected to a second four-year term, and was quoted as pledging to continue to stand up and protect the public access to recreational lands and streams for Montanans who hunt, camp and fish.



By EVE BYRON Helena Independent Record



October 30, 2010

Read full article: The Missoulian


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