Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

“Frankly, I’m an Obama guy . . . You hear these sort-of horror stories about the government is gonna take your property, or they’re gonna confiscate your ground, and I always thought it was some sort of libertarian gobbledy-gook. But in this case this is exactly what’s happening.”

That was Huey Lewis; this is the news: The Mitchell Slough, in the Bitterroots of Montana, is a century-old irrigation ditch. Newcomers to the area, including rocker Huey Lewis, worked on the slough to make it better for fish. Though farmers were at first skeptical, the redigging and unsilting made the slough better for agriculture as well as for fish.

But those fish are valuable. Other folks covet them.

In Montana, natural water bodies must be accessible to the public. So the recreation lobby took the slough’s owners to court.

At first, the historical facts of this man-made water system held sway. But the Montana State Supreme Court overturned all this, caving in to the intense political pressure to open up the slough to public access.

People with fishing rods may rejoice now, but their victory will be Pyrrhic. The fish and wildlife will degrade. Basically, Montana’s highest court unleashed what is called the “tragedy of the commons.” Public access of a common resource often leads to overuse, in this case, over-fishing. It’s sad news for Huey Lewis, farmers, fishermen . . . and fish.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. voxoreason says:

    I think it was Henny Penny who announced to her barnyard friends that she was going to bake a cake, but found no volunteers to help in the baking.

    However, there were many volunteers after the cake was baked.

    I would love to see the “ditch” before and after the improvements were made.

    The Missoulian (dotcom, no “The”) reports:

    “The Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Mitchell Slough was a natural stream, ending a long, hard-fought battle between landowners who claimed the waterway was an irrigation ditch and sportsmen who said the slough should be open to the public under the state’s stream access law.

    “Duck hunting became an issue this fall after some landowners, including rock musician and ranch owner Huey Lewis, turned to baiting waterfowl on the slough to effectively close it to waterfowl hunters. Under federal law, it is illegal to hunt waterfowl in an area where they are being fed.

    “The slough meanders a little less than half a mile along the eastern boundary of the John and Kathy Lewis property. The waterway varies from about 17 to 24 feet wide.”

  2. Drifter says:

    I just didn’t ‘get’ the common sense behind your arguement. The premise that “public use cannot be trusted to be responsible” doesn’t seem to fit. There are many responsible public users who are also very conservationist in their views and strong voices for protection of recreational resources.

    I guess that you are just not a fisherman…

  3. Hank says:

    I’m not a fisherman, but both my boys are. They would agree with Paul in this, as I do. I am over 80, and have traveled the world. I have seen a lot. The US has, by lletting idiots have unlimited access to valuable property, managed to destroy many beautiful beaches and recreational areas. I am not a fan of govt management of anything, since our thieving politicians seem to be able to destroy so very many things in their rabid desire for votes, but local caontrol, without interference by easily bribed judges would ertainly help to keep a lot of “pristine” areas neat , clean and usable. But then, you have the nut from SF, Cal in the House, who is blocking Alaska, off shore and other valuable resources from being accessed. While saidnut is chauffered around in a gas guzzling SUV.

  4. Tess says:

    Tahkns alot – your answer solved all my problems after several days struggling

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