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(1) Pursuant to Article X, Section 11(1) of the 1972 Montana Constitution and 70-1-202(1) and 77-1-102(2), MCA, the title to all navigable rivers is held by the board in trust for the benefit of the public.

(2) The board, through the department as the board's administrative arm, shall manage and administer the navigable rivers of the state of Montana to:

(a) ensure the public's right to fully use and enjoy this resource for commerce, navigation, fishing, hunting, recreation and other public trust values; and

(b) generate income from navigable rivers for the public trust in a manner consistent with these rules and other laws.

(3) The department may, upon request by an applicant, issue an easement, lease, or license for the board's approval of the use of a river bed which is not yet adjudicated as navigable.

(a) Any such easement, lease, or license, which is voluntarily sought by an applicant, shall only convey a contingent right to use the riverbed based upon the validity and extent of the board's title to the river bed.

(b) The department may issue such contingent-right easements, leases, and licenses only where the department has historical documentation that the river was susceptible of use in commerce at statehood.

(c) Private use may be made of the bed of an unadjudicated river without prior department authorization, unless and until five years has passed since the department:

(i) has published public notice twice in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the river that the river has been adjudicated as navigable; and

(ii) has given notice to adjacent landowners that the river has been adjudicated as navigable.

(4) Navigable rivers are classified as class 4 lands under 77-1-401, MCA

History: 77-1-1109, 77-1-1117, MCA; IMP, 77-1-1109, MCA; NEW, 2012 MAR p. 2475, Eff. 12/7/12.

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