HB 309…barely alive….”kicking”

The boys in Craig at Headhunters have the latest on HB 309…….check it out…….defeated the Dark Side will be. 

‘Liner . . . as noted, HB309 is still kicking, sort of.

Tuesday, March 22, the Senate Ag committee held a hearing on SB405 (Sen. Anders Blewitt) to ban wire across rivers. Today, Thursday, the committee heard arguments to add a defintion of ‘ditch’ to SB405, but the idea was killed. Next, Sen. Rick Ripley moved to take HB309 off the table, but, after discussion, withdrew his motion.

Be aware that the forces behind HB309 are not giving up easily . . .

                     – Robin Cunningham.  FOAM

Ditch Bill Update – HB 309

Recieved this today from FOAM:

House Bill 309, the ‘ditch’ bill, was tabled in the Senate Ag committee this afternoon.

Amendments were offered to strip the bill of any mention of redefining what is a ditch and related access issues and to update the Stream Access law to reflect corrections from the so-called ‘Galt Decision’ from the Montana Supreme Court.

Even while considering these wholesale amendments, committee members were wary that a stripped-down HB309 could be amended  back to the original language in the House or in a conference committee formed to iron out any and all amendments from both the Senate and the House. 

With this possibility in mind, Sen. Taylor Brown moved to withdraw the amendments and table the bill.  The committee voted 8 for tabling, 3 against. 

Sen. Brown may try to have the House suspend their rules barring introduction of any new bills at this late date and try to cobble up a committee bill to bring forward the Galt Decision language in a new bill, but the chances of an unused bill draft being available and the House suspending their rules to allow it’s introduction are sketchy.

FOAM will track the final throes of HB309, but today’s committee action may well be the end of this saga.

Robin Cunningham

A Ditch Bill Update…HB 309


I received this email update, as did every other FOAM Member, from Robin Cunningham.  This pretty much lays it out there as far what you should do to help out.  Read below and get on it.  All of you…….Tuesday March 8th is the hearing.  Sadly, I will be going under the knife for a total reconstruction of my Left ACL…..bummer for me, or I would be there.

FOAM Members:

House Bill 309, the ‘Ditch Bill’, is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation Committee on Tuesday, March 8, in Room 303, the old Supreme Court chambers, starting at 3:00 p.m.

This email is to encourage your participation and to give you the info you need to be ready for a successful challenge to House Bill 309. 


If you send comments before Tuesday, the committee members may not remember them – they’re home during the Session Break from Feb 25 to Feb 28.  Make your comments count at the right time: just after the break, just before the hearing on Tuesday, and right after the hearing.

If you can, COME TO THE HEARING!  With many opponents from all over Montana taking the time to attend, the committee members will know the bill as written needs to be tabled.  Talk to your pals, work out a carpool, and come.  This is dangerous legislation with possible long-term consequences for our industry, and we need to work hard together to help the committee members understand our concerns.

Download the bill:  http://foam-montana.org/downloads/HB309.pdf

Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation Committee Members and contact info:

Sen. Donald Steinbeisser (R, Sidney): donstein@midrivers.com

Sen. Gary Branae (D, Billings): garybranae@gmail.com

Sen. Taylor Brown (R, Huntley): taylor@northernbroadcasting.com

Sen. Bob Hawks (D, Bozeman): senator.robert.hawks@gmail.com

Sen. Rowlie Hutton (R, Havre): hutton4senate@yahoo.com

Sen. Cliff Larson (D, Missoula): cliff@larsenusa.com

Sen. Eric Moore (R, Miles City): mail@senatorericmoore.com

Sen. Terry Moore (R, Cardwell): murphter5@yahoo.com

Sen. Rick Ripley (R, Wolf Creek): (406) 562-3502

Sen. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy (D, Crow Agency): apsaalookewomen@yahoo.com

Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy (D, Box Elder): windyboy_j@yahoo.com

Any legislator may be contacted via an online form at:


Message limit:1250 characters; Do not use characters * ^ ; & > < / ‘

Or by phone: Call 406-444-4800 and leaving a message indicating which Senator you want to contact, what bill you’re calling about (HB309), a vote ‘against’, and your comments. 

* Comment on how HB309 would affect your business if access were limited by new definitions in the bill;
* Talk about how your fishing on days off would be affected by limited access;
* The existing Stream Access Law (SAL) already defines ‘ditches’ adequately;
* The SAL was created cooperatively by many interested parties;
* HB309 involved few, if any, parties other than a few irrigators and landowners;
* The bill virtually guarantees lengthy, expensive legal wrangling over access on many rivers and streams;
* The bill replaces current law that has satisfied many landowners for decades;
* Urge a DO NOT PASS vote! 

Thanks in advance for your assistance. 

Robin Cunningham

The Ditch Bill….

Robin Cunningham, the ED of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana has attended every session in Helena as our ear to the grindstone for almost 2 decades.  Two weeks ago he informed those of us attending the Board of Directors Meeting in Bozeman about HB 309.   Robin has been keeping us informed all along the way.  There has been lots of coverage througout the web regarding this attact on stream access here in Montana.  The blogs Willfishforwork and ChiWulff  have been covering this quite well.  I, for one, have been writing emails to those in the House, Senate and the Governor opposing this attack on the Stream Access Law. 

Yesterday afternoon Robin sent out an email to the Board saying that HB309, the ‘Ditch Bill’, is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation Committee on Thursday, March 3, in Room 335 starting at 3:00 p.m.  Helena, MT.

Download the bill:  http://foam-montana.org/downloads/HB309.pdf

Email your Senators: click here to find them.