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New Corner Crossing plan would grant greater access to hunters and anglers

Published On: Feb 15 2013 10:58:38 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Peter King is the manager at Bozeman Angler.  It's no surprise, he's a fisherman himself.

"The solitude of the sport is the whole allure to it so, nobody wants to stand shoulder to shoulder to people fishing on a river," says King.

That's why he says he's a fan of the new corner crossing plan.

"Montana has a lot of people coming out here to fish every year so, if people want to get away from the average, easy to get to spots, then those hard to reach places might be better for people willing to hike," says King.

Corner Crossing refers to crossing from one piece of publicly-owned land to another at a corner where the tips of those two pieces of land meet and between two other parcels of privately-owned land.  

"I think it's going to clear up a lot of people who are already crossing illegally to be within their rights and I think it'll also open up a lot of land-locked public land," explains King.

Opponents argue the bill would legalize trespassing and step on private property rights.

Though anglers I spoke to tell me the new Corner Crossing plan would benefit them, they say it would effect hunters even more.

"First thing I do when I pull up to an area I want to hunt or fish is pull out a map and look at all the pieces of state because those you can get to without talking to anybody and try to it those first and so, if you see a nice piece that's got a creek going through it or something like that and it's walled off by private, there's really nothing you can do," says Montana Troutfitters Manager Jake Adelman.

This time of year, Adelman says he's just as much of a hunter as he is an angler.  He just picked up bow hunting a couple years ago but says he also likes to hunt for fowl.  

Adelman says he meets a lot of landowners willing to let him cross their land, but not all of them.

"Living in the state, paying state taxes, it's nice to be able to access all that public land," says Adelman.

The most recent Corner Crossing Plan creates a fund for FWP to buy easements with a portion of hunting license money.

"I think that the way they have this bill set up where they're going to be offering some sort of financial compensation for the landowners, it's a good thing for everybody," explains Adelman.

Yet, others worry, it won't be enough.

HB 404 is also part of the plan.  It would fund block management programs to help provide further access for hunters in Montana.