The Durfees: Bozeman Film Premiere

The Durfees: Bozeman Film Premiere

We're excited to announce that Mission: Montana's debut film—The Durfees: Saving a Public Land Treasure—will be screened at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture on the evening of Tuesday, June 13th, at 7:00 pm. 

The event will be co-hosted by the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and wouldn't have been possible without the support of OnX Hunt Maps, Traditional Bowhunters of Montana, Two Bar J Productions, and dozens of individual supporters of our 2016 Kickstarter Campaign. We're thrilled with how the film turned out and can't wait to share it with you. 

Tickets are $8 and are available at the door or in advance at Eventbrite.com.

Bozeman man charged with trespassing on 100 yr. old FS trail

Bozeman man charged with trespassing on 100 yr. old FS trail

Rob Gregoire, an avid hunter & fisherman who lives in Bozeman, has been charged with criminal trespass for using a Forest Service trail in the Crazy Mountains that has been used by the public—including employees of the Forest Service—for roughly a century. 

FS 115/136 leading north from the Big Timber Canyon Picnic Area, where Gregoire parked on the day he received his criminal trespass citation. Courtesy ONX Maps.

The trail in question is FS Trail 115/136, which  is part of a series of trails that once encircled the Crazy Mountains, north of Big Timber. On November 23, 2016, Gregoire parked at the Big Timber Canyon Picnic Area on Big Timber Canyon Road and set off on foot for a roughly 500 acre parcel of USFS land to the north, using his GPS app to make sure he stayed on the FS 115/136 trail. When he returned from his elk hunt, he found an officer from the Sweetgrass County Sheriff's Department waiting for him with a $585 fine for criminal trespass. Gregoire has been charged with illegally crossing the Hailstone Ranch, which belongs to the Langhus family of Big Timber. His case goes to an omnibus hearing on February 16, when the judge will review evidence and testimony collected at the time of the arrest. See the Billings Gazette article by Brett French about the case here

Gregoire has already entered a not guilty plea, and he plans to challenge the trespass charge with evidence of historic usage of the FS 115/136 trail by the public. Such evidence would lend credibility to the argument that there is a "prescriptive easement" on the trail, which is an easement established by historic use that cannot be bought, sold, or granted. For more information on what a prescriptive easement is, look here

The trail had been in use for a half-century before the Langhus family acquired the adjacent property, and in regular use by USFS crews, as recently as last year, when, as Brett French reports, the Yellowstone district ranger organized a trail clearing crew on the very same trail. At one point there was even a USFS cabin near the same trailhead where Gregoire parked and began his hike. The trail is clearly marked and labeled on USFS topo maps that predate Langhus ownership of the Hailstone Ranch. For their part, the Langhus family is trying to say that there was never an FS trail on the site, and therefore there is no prescriptive easement. The burden of proof, they say, is on the USFS.

Regardless of the outcome of Gregoire's trespass case, which will go before a Sweetgrass County court, the status of the prescriptive easement on FS 115/136 will remain in limbo. In order for the status of the trail to be legally determined, a civil suit will have to be brought against the landowners alleging that there is a prescriptive easement and showing evidence of historic usage by the public that predates private ownership.

Gregoire is seeking help from anyone who has used the trail recently or whose family members used the trail without conflict in the past. Gregoire's supporters have also launched a website to help him crowd-fund his anticipated legal expenses. The page has photos of historic USFS structures at the trailhead and a topo map from 1937 showing the FS 115/136 trail as it existed at the time. 

 

 

 

You're the only barrier against the land transfer movement.

You're the only barrier against the land transfer movement.

Our public lands are facing a grave threat from a Republican Party that made the transfer of public lands part of its 2016 platform and now controls both houses of Congress and two-thirds of state houses. Now is the time to tell your elected officials know not to lay a finger on your public land.

As we approach our funding goal, Gov. Bullock announces public land campaign

This is a huge day for us at Mission: Montana—thanks to three sponsor pledges to our Kickstarter campaign for The Durfeesour film about a controversial public land battle in central Montana—we are now just $44 shy of our $12,000 funding goal. We are blown away by the level of support we've received over the past two and a half weeks since we launched the campaign, from people we know and admire and from many people we've never met. We've gotten pledges from almost eighty people so far, and we can't wait to get this film into production and to start planning screening events, where we hope we'll be able to tap into that same network to ensure high attendance at screenings and to make sure The Durfees contributes powerfully to a necessary conversation about the future of public land in the west.

On that note, there was big news out of the Governor's office today, too: Governor Bullock announced that he "directed the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire a public access specialist in an attempt to get anglers, hunters and other recreationists on to the state’s nearly 2 million acres of inaccessible public property." This is a huge deal, and it's guaranteed to trigger a shitstorm in Helena, and cries of protest from those who enjoy the fact that corner crossing is against the law, and that they have exclusive access to BLM, National Forest, & state school trust land within their private holdings. Given that Mission: Montana is currently producing a film about one of the state's most serious public land battles—in which the billionaire Wilks brothers are trying to obtain several thousand acres of prime elk hunting ground in the Durfee Hills in exchange for land in the Missouri Breaks where there is already public access—we think this is a really major step on the part of the Governor, especially since his opponent in the fall election is Greg Gianforte, who sued the state of Montana in 2009 over a public access point that abutted his land in the Cherry Creek section of East Gallatin River. If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does.

 

Kickstarter launched for Durfees Film!

Kickstarter launched for Durfees Film!

We're crowdfunding our first short film on Kickstarter, about a father-daughter elk hunt on a piece of Montana public land at the center of a controversial land exchange. We need your help! 

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

We've been busy hunting and fishing and are getting ready for a winter full of Cold Smoke and hot springs. Looking forward to posting our freshest content here very soon!