Putting the "Public" Back In "Public Trust"

"In Montana this 'Broken Window Theory' is evident
 in the growing illegal taking of our public access
 by private interests.


This issue is a wee bit different. I am focusing on Montana Public Lands/Public Access as a whole, rather than the parts. As you can see from some of the LTEs, even from Wyoming, this is on the brains of many. Months ago, as touched on in the video, I had a number of people reach out to me to look into a number of known illegal access situations. As some heard that I was setting up the project, some people volunteered to join on the onsite documentation trips. Finally, I got the video finished and things are seriously gaining momentum here. In a few days I am documenting 3-4 sites.  This doesnt just happen by itself, so please consider contributing to "Unlocking Montana's Future Public Access".

The "Broken Windows Theory" comes from the metaphor used to describe this concept: That if a window is broken and left unrepaired, then people walking by will assume that no one cares, no one is in charge. It sends a signal to others encouraging anti-social behavior, vandalism, greater crime. This theory states that the little things matter.

In Montana this "Broken Window Theory" is evident in the growing illegal takings of our public access by private interests.

When one private landowner illegally blocks off a public access road or public lands/waters, placing fences, gates, locks and NO TRESPASSING signs, and gets away with it, it sends a signal to others that "no one cares", you can steal the Public's Access, with no penalties for Trespassing against the Public Trust.

Some programs and groups are working on acquiring new access, which is awesome. But this is access that we already have.

As I see it, the only way to combat this privatizing epidemic is to show you care!

Repair the trespass damage by actively taking back our stolen Public Access!

Send the message that we are watching, we are documenting and we will take action - We have Public Property Rights!

With nearly 2 million acres of public lands inaccessible in Montana (more than any other western state), don't you think it's time to do something more about it, something radical to take back what has been illegally stolen, turn the tide?

It is time to systematically restore our Public Access for Future Generations! - Kathryn

Click on video link for Project page and Video.

Public Trust For Youth
I had the honor of being invited to our Bozeman Boys and Girls Club to speak about the Public Trust Doctrine (Thanks Bill Mealer for setting it up) to about 35-45 kids. Pretty heady subject for the youth, but a necessary one. So I introduced myself as Kathryn the Conqueror (William the Conqueror who descended from Viking invaders conquered, set up the forests for private use and created the privatized Forest Laws, and the "King's Deer".). Then I began to steal from the kids - headbands, hoodies, etc., and keep it for myself. Of course they objected, but I told them I was the king and could do what I pleased and make the laws the way I wanted, how did that make them feel? None too happy. I told them the US was different from William the Conqueror's Europe, we had a Public Trust Doctrine. I then related that the headband was our public wildlife, the hoodie our public lands and the bandana our public waters and there were special interests that are trying and were doing just what "Kathryn the Conqueror" did - steal our Public Trust from them. This is of course very abbreviated.

I had large photos of our youth recreating on our Public Lands (Thanks Dale Spartas of DSPhoto for some of the pictures).
This reinforced how valuable these lands are to them and why they needed to keep those lands for future generations.

Periodically, I would ask them whose lands, or waters or wildlife it was and by the end, they were all getting it and yelling, "Its ours/mine/your public lands." Are you going to let the "Viking raiders" steal it from you? "No, we're going to protect it." At one point when I asked the kids what else they could do on our Public Lands than the recreation images I had shown, one of the young boys blessed me so much, he answered, "Clean up our public lands, like picking up litter." Kids rock. They gave me the thank you card below, but I feel I was the recipient. Their energy and enthusiasm was encouraging for our Public Trust Future. You never know the seeds you plant.

Public land suffering from greed of landowners, outfitters by John Gibson
"Terry Anderson's opinion piece claiming there is too much access to public land and water is no more than another attack on the public trust resources of our state. He would have us believe that all of Montana's public land, wildlife and fish would be better off if they were managed by private owners... What they are suffering from is the greed of landowners and outfitters who profit from keeping the public from accessing public land."

The distinction between physical and legal access to land by Don Thomas
"What concerns Montana's outdoor community today isn't physical access but loss of legal access — the right to reach land we already own using existing rights-of-way without facing the draconian trespass penalties enacted in the last session of the Montana Legislature. No one is asking that this access be sufficiently convenient to invite overcrowding, or that it allow motorized transport to disrupt the backcountry experience. We'd just like to be able to reach the boundary of our public land without being harassed or going to jail.

The ability to access one's property is considered a right. But why should a different standard apply to public land? Let's be clear — Montana's Forest Service, BLM, and NWR lands are not the property of some distant, alien 'government.' They belong to "we the people," the taxpaying citizens of the United States, who should be able to access their land for the same reasons private landowners should be able to access theirs."

Daines for special interests, not Montana by Stan Fraiser
"It is becoming obvious that Senator Daines just doesn’t get that Montana’s outdoors is a cornerstone of our way of life and a major economic driver. Outdoor recreation in Montana generates $5.8 billion in consumer spending, 64,000 jobs, and $1.5 billion in wages and salaries. Hunting and fishing alone accounts for almost $1 billion in spending.

It only makes sense that we should invest in our incredible outdoor amenities."

Tester, Daines Back Increases For Land And Water Conservation Fund
"A powerful Senate committee Thursday increased funding for a public lands access program, but Montana's senators disagreed on the amount.

Democrat Jon Tester tried to secure more money for the fund today in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. But his amendment to allocate $400 million was defeated on a party line vote. Tester says the Land and Water Conservation Fund should ultimately be fully funded, at the $900 million level originally passed by Congress.

The fund is set to expire at the end of September unless it's re-authorized by Congress."

Public lands are distinctly American
"While I despise an overbearing federal government, the key word being overlooked here is 'public.' What’s at stake is beyond you and me and the interests of today. The concept of public land is distinctly American, a direct result of our forebears living in places where a person could be punished or even killed for entering the 'king’s forest' or hunting the 'king’s deer.' Public lands provide places where anyone may relish precious stillness, scenery and bounties."

If you would like to further this work and research,
   please click to contribute to EMWH.

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu


Wildlife &


Bozeman, MT

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