A road near Maudlow will now close each spring to resolve tensions between recreationists and landowners.
The Gallatin County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday for a second — and final — time to close Bremer Creek Road annually to motorized vehicles from March 1 to June 1, beginning this year.
A sign will be posted at the road and a gate, cable or other barrier will likely be placed there to prevent motorized vehicles from using the area.
Those who violate the new ordinance could be fined $10 to $50 or jailed for five to 25 days. Subsequent offenses carry more serious penalties.
Commissioner Joe Skinner called the seasonal road closure “a reasonable compromise” between landowners who wanted to fully eliminate public access to the road and recreationists who wanted to keep it open.
The landowners told commissioners they could access their properties from other roads and said because the road didn’t lead to public land, it wasn’t necessary. They also said the road was unsafe because it was impassable when wet and was unmaintained in the winter. A few said they have had to help stranded drivers stuck in the mud.
More than 2,000 people signed a petition asking the commissioners to deny the landowners’ request, which would have cut off public access to a 3.5-mile stretch of Bremer Creek Road north of its intersection with Rocky Mountain Road, an area about 20 miles north of Belgrade.
The commissioners assigned a viewing committee, which included Skinner and Clerk and Recorder Eric Semerad, advised the commissioners to maintain the road as a public way because of its “recreational, scenic and regular public use,” according to their report. They also suggested the commissioners place seasonal restrictions on the road to protect it during spring runoff events.
The commissioners voted in September to follow the committee’s recommendations and keep the road open to the public. They also promised to create an ordinance for seasonal closure, which they have now done.