More on the Gianforte Stream Access Story

Greg GianforteGreg Gianforte

by Cowgirl

I enjoy the flattering attention when newspapers cite to the blog, but at the risk of sounding too modest, an important point should be made clear. This is about yesterday’s story that this blog “surfaced” (the Lee Newspapers word) a 2009 lawsuit filed by Greg Gianforte to close down stream access on his property.  The post has since become the most viewed  in the 6 years I’ve had this blog – with more viewers than the piece that made the front page of Reddit and crashed the blog (to be sure, after that incident I upgraded my server capacity.)

What I did is read the newspaper, namely a 2009 Bozeman Chronicle article after a loyal reader tipped me off to the article’s existence, for which I provided a link. (To news writers and internet-challenged GOP operatives: you’d be amazed what is findable using search engines.)

I was surprised at the way in which Lee covered the story, seeming to have swallowed Gianforte’s excuses whole.  In the lawsuit, the Gianforte family filed a complaint asking the court to extinguish the easement over Gianfortes’s property.  It’s right in the Chronicle. Emphasis mine:

A local property owner is suing Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to eliminate a one-acre easement providing access to the East Gallatin River near the Cherry River fishing access north of downtown Bozeman.

Susan Gianforte, wife of RightNow Technologies CEO Greg Gianforte, is listed as the registered agent of East Gallatin LLC, the company filing suit to yank the easement from the northwest corner of its Manley Road property, which runs alongside 75 acres of Fish Wildlife and Parks land.

The Chronicle also reported that Art Wittich argued to terminate the easement claiming the public could get to the river from other people’s land: “So the easement is not necessary for public recreation needs, and, he said, his client’s property is being harmed by public wear and tear.”

The fact that FWP stood up to them, and that the Gianfortes ultimately were forced to take a settlement which allowed people to access the stream, does not change what the Gianfortes tried to do.  If you sue McDonalds for a million dollars because you spilled hot fries on yourself, and you settle for free fries for one year, you can’t say that you “sued McDonalds to get free fries.”  You sued for money; you got fries instead.  The Gianfortes tried blocking access, completely. They settled for a re-routed trail section.

And notice how  carefully Gianforte worded his response. “At no time did we deny stream access,” he says.  That’s true.  He failed in denying it.  But he tried to.


UPDATE:  Kathryn QannaYahu in Bozeman also went to the Gallatin courthouse and obtained the original documents pertaining to their property purchases and the FWP easement.

She found some holes in the Gianforte narrative. Like the Bozeman Chronicle, she also found that the documents show that the Gianfortes tried to eliminate the access by eliminating the easement.

Here is the link to her website where anyone can read it all for themselves:


18 Comments on "More on the Gianforte Stream Access Story"

  1. Richard Miller | May 11, 2016 8:01 AM at 8:01 AM |

    Cowgirl, do you really think that some rookie reporter from Lee Enterprises will actually get up off of his/r ass, and get out from their desktop publishing cubicles, journey out into the world and see if the sun is shining? Having been a subscriber for over 40 years, I find the publications by Lee that we call “the newspaper” has steadily gone downhill and caters solely to the enterprise of advertising used cars, questionable medical remedies and inaccurate articles.
    Thank you again for your blog….

  2. In my household we call the Independent Record — the IR Shopper. It keeps shrinking and shrinking in size and in news.

  3. The IR has worded its story as if it disputes the facts of a blog and not a competing (and superior) news outlet because they find it easier to justify giving 9 column inches to Gianforte’s spokesperson that way.

    if they try to clash swords with the Chronicle who actually uncovered and reported the facts- their “angle” is revealed as the garbage reporting that it is.

    a new low.

  4. How about Chuck Johnson’s 2002 piece in the IR from 2002 where Gianforte is ON THE RECORD in support of a Sales Tax in lieu of other taxes! That’s why we keep JOURNALS journalists to preserve the TRUTH!

  5. Art Wittich's Hot Tub Time Machine | May 11, 2016 10:00 AM at 10:00 AM |

    This dildo will not be elected Governor. Period.

    • Drunks for Denny | May 12, 2016 5:15 PM at 5:15 PM |

      Exactly. Remember when the dimwitted voters of this state rejected Mark O’Keefe in favor of ultra-idiot Judy Martz, just because he was a rich guy? At least he was a rich guy with a heart, not interested in pursuing the usual lord-serf system.

  6. Never commented here before but I have a question. Was a Complaint filed with the Court Clerk by the Gianfortes and a court file opened by the Clerk which contains a copy of the Complaint? If so, the Court file is public record and one can go to the Courthouse and read the Complaint. This should help make it very clear what the Gianfortes specifically requested as relief, i. e. an elimination of the easement or something else. Has anyone checked on this at the Courthouse?

  7. Billionaire Bully.

  8. Parker Heinlein | May 12, 2016 12:27 PM at 12:27 PM |

    When did the Chronicle become a Lee paper?

  9. AS an transplanted Montanan I appreciate the insights you provide. I only hope that you will help wake up the electorate to under stand what their best interests are.

  10. Throw the bull $#!t flag yet again. The dispute was over property boundaries and the Gianforte’s won!!!!! FWP after REPEATED requests to come to the site finally did and AMENDED THEIR RECORDS!!!!!! The allegation has absolutely no merit. Fishermen and hunters had access to to the stream AND to designated parts of the Gianforte’s property for bow hunting BEFORE DURING AND AFTER the dispute over the borders. So who in the world is claiming they were harmed?? It did not happen and the charge is specious. Give this lame claim up folks! It is showing the worst side of those making it.

  11. Could someone please post some fotos of the 1993 Easement(surveyed in 1997)!

    Maybe walk up to the NE corner of the lime/yellow rectangle, orient with the Google map, and take some fotos for the public record also for the sharing of information.

    Kinda looks like the way for the Public to access that Easement, from the Cherry River fishing access, might involve wading the river.

  12. In February Mr. Gianforte drives a wedge between himself and Montana elk hunters.
    Has he now joined up in the war with our State about fishing access?
    That’s nothing but a reasonable question,
    since main stream media in Montana has avoided looking
    for a story behind his assertion
    that his Art Wittich designed and Filed Suit against FWP
    narrowed down to nothing more than disputing, then resolving,
    a FWP boundary on a one acre Easement,
    across one or two finger shaped pieces of land,
    between oxbows of the meandering East Gallatin River?

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