“The most important thing I achieved today was catching more fish than the director of FWP, ” said Gov’nur Schweitzer.
Last Friday, he was one of the first legal people to float through the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers. That’s right – the river is ready for floating, and by all accounts, the fishing is just dandy!
“There’s some nice little fishing holes in here,” noted Joe Maurier, acting director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Woohoo! Let’s go!
But, wait. Don’t launch your boats just yet. It ain’t legal for you. YOU are gonna have to wait at least another year.
Unless you’re a friend of his Lordship. In which case, he’ll grant you a special exemption and you can float on down at your leisure. There won’t be any yahoos on their inner tubes and there’s won’t be any noisy speed boats heading the opposite direction. This little stretch of river is only for the rich and powerful!
It was the sort of thing that happened in England all the time – if you wanted to hunt on someone’s land you had to be invited to the annual hunting party, if you wanted to fish a stretch of river you had to be a member of the local club, and if you were caught on someone’s property picking berries or mushrooms you could expect to be shot. The royal elite controlled the land and the poor had no rights of access. And you can be sure the lords and ladies didn’t want to share it with you.
Of course, the thing is, over here every man, woman, (and dog?) is treated equal. We have public lands that are owned by all of us, paid for by all of us, and part of our common heritage and liberty. We’re proud of our rivers here in Montana and we don’t much like the government telling us where we can and can’t go. Its part of our freedom to wander at will, chasing those elusive cutthroats and moseying on through the riffles.
So, why the heck did Governor Schweitzer choose July 4th weekend to remind us that all citizens are created equal… but that some are more equal than others? Because he can.