Daily DrakeCox

CoxThis smiley guy again? You bet. The obese-pocketed Montana stream access nemesis, James Cox Kennedy, is back with his Supreme Court case waddling into a Bozeman courtroom next week. Kennedy’s Ruby River swath is set up like a Fort Knox of good trout fishing and the Atlanta media mogul doesn’t like to share, despite laws that state otherwise.

After losing a court case to the Public Land/Water Access Association (PLWA) in 2008, Kennedy has since elevated his personal crusade to block access to “his” river. And on Monday, April 29, at the Strand Union Ballroom, the Montana Supreme Court will begin hearings to determine if certain county bridges—such as Seyler Lane on the Ruby—should or shouldn’t provide open access to everyone.

In particular, the court will examine the legality of House Bill 190, passed during the 2009 Legislative Session, that confirms “the public has access to surface waters by public bridge or county road right-of-way. The Department, in cooperation with the affected landowner and county, is responsible for providing public passage around or through a fence preventing such access.”


According to the PLWA, leading the charge against Kennedy, “Montana is lucky to enjoy the best stream access in the U.S. We cannot stand by and see it eroded by this case or any other case. This is turning out to be a high profile case. Montana Trout Unlimited recognizes this and they have filed a friend-of-the-court amicus brief on our side.”

On the flip side, opposition is mounting, with United Property Owners of Montana (UPOM) and the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) both filing amicus briefs supporting Kennedy.

James Muhlbeier, at Montana Troutfitters, is rallying stream access supporters to attend the Bozeman hearing—a great opportunity to work on your Cox blocking skills. The introduction to oral argument starts at 9:30 a.m. on Monday. TU has chartered a bus and will be running shuttles from Butte to Bozeman for those who want to attend.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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