U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Riverbed Ownership
High court overturns Montana Supreme Court ruling that power company owes state rent.
Compiled by staff of Farm Futures
Published: Feb 24, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case PPL vs. Montana that the waterfalls of the Missouri River near Great Falls, Mont., are not navigable and therefore power company PPL does not owe the state rent and the state cannot claim ownership of the riverbed. By law states hold title to riverbeds only if the rivers are navigable. 

"Farmers and ranchers prevailed this week when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of landowner property rights in the case of PPL v. Montana," said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. "This decision puts ownership of streambeds and stream banks in the hands of their rightful owners."

The American Farm Bureau Federation filed a friend-of-the-court brief along with the Montana Farm Bureau in the case. Colorado Farm Bureau and Utah Farm Bureau also filed briefs in the case in support of the petitioning landowners.

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