Public access to rivers, lakes, and streams seems like a good idea in the abstract. Why not allow access to anyone who wants to enjoy the recreational opportunities associated with water? Or to state it differently, why allow private landowners to exclude the public from waters that happen to flow across private lands?
A recent decision of the Montana Supreme Court is a perfect example of why environmentalists and conservationists should reconsider their usual support for public access without regard to ownership of the underlying land.
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