We live in a gorgeous valley with a world class river running through the middle of it. The river runs through both private and public land which limits the access to the public portions. Public access is our right and we must defend and preserve that privilege for the future generations. Good access is very limited and it looks to me like we the public are at risk of losing what we all consider a tremendous public treasure.
One of the best public access points on the entire river is the existing access at the Stevensville bridge. In coordination with the Town of Stevensville, FWP is offering to fund the development of a first class FWP fishing access site. Paved boat launching area, restrooms, picnic tables and parking area, establishing a safe area for all users.
There has been a concerted effort underway for many months now, to NOT accept the FWP site and instead ask the Town to build an access point on the river that would be several hundred yards downstream from the current bridge site. This is now undeveloped Town land that would require a huge effort and expense without the FWP, to create even a small limited use area.
The group making the effort includes some or maybe all of the town council, plus some town folks. They are claiming their efforts are not political, and claim to be bipartisan. Well, I’m not so sure, as the facts would seem to indicate quite the opposite. They claim to have public access as the main focus and purpose of their efforts. These are folks that have worked hard in years past for public rights to public access. But now they would seem to have an objective beyond what they are telling us.
They claim their downstream location offers the best solution, while the facts show what they prefer is a much smaller location that will have limited capacity. Not more user friendly, not more accessible, not better parking. What they seem to desire is actually going to limit public access, not create more. This site will not accommodate the general public needs, instead it will restrict them.
The intent now seems clear to me. In generations to come this will limit the public use of the river, not enhance it. The general public will be denied the benefit of an outstanding treasure. Why do they not want more public access? Urge this group and the town council to accept the current bridge site. The proposed land swap is a win-win solution for everyone! Maximum public access protected forever. Please, do not let this opportunity for premier public access pass us by based on the decision of a few. Speak up for your public access rights.
Rep. Ed Greef, HD-88