Here’s an interesting article in the Missoulian concerning our navigable waterways. The State of Montana is arguing that PPL Power company owes them a few $$ for use of land.
The court will be seeking advice from historians on the commercial use of these waterways as far back as Lewis and Clark.
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Even if it’s determined that PPL owns the land, anglers, etc. should still have the right to be there, within the high-water mark, in my estimation. The biggest issue, I’ve heard, is that this could set a precedent nationwide, disallowing folks in other states from riverbeds determined to be owned by power companies.
Potentially any body of water determined by the court to be non navigable could become private. Doubt it will happen but there is $50 million on the line.
Since statehood in 1889, under the federal Equal Footing Law, Montana has owned the beds of “navigable” rivers that have sustained commercial use.