Wealthy Californians Moved to Montana and Blocked Historic River Access
By angelamontana

Posted: August 10, 2023

Warning–the following excerpt by Katie Hill via Outdoor Life might annoy you if you’re a Montanan.

“A conflict in the state’s richest valley pitted out-of-state landowners against local hunters and anglers over a few crucial feet of land”, referred to “a tale as old as the west”.  Is this guaranteed in the future of Montana?  Well, it is definitely already happening across the state–especially in western Montana.

In Montana, the state stream access law remains a bright spot. But public water hunters and anglers have found themselves increasingly at an impasse with the new, fast-growing population of riverfront landowners, thanks to the mass-wealth migration that’s priced many multi-generation Westerners out of their hometowns. Cookie-cutter housing developments full of large, sleek abodes sprawl across valley floors in places like Gallatin County, eating up what was traditionally agricultural land nestled between vast mountain ranges. In March 2023, the median cost of a single-family home in Montana’s wealthiest county was almost $700,000. (Thirteen months before that, it was $1.1 million.)

What follows is the story of how one small bit of river access on the outskirts of Bozeman disappeared after years of complaints and dispute between the public and new landowners from California. The impact of the closure is small; anyone with a map can find other access points to the Gallatin River just a few miles upstream and downstream, assuming the parking lots aren’t full. But this story’s main characters say this is a cautionary tale for what the West could look like in the future. In other words: As more wealthy out-of-towners move in, locals will lose public access not through some dramatic showdown, but through slow, mind-numbing, bureaucratic processes.

Just because you used to be able to take a route to the river doesn’t mean it will stay that way when out-of-staters move in and take over.

Read the full article by clicking here.

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing