Group forming to advocate for property rights

Local landowners are forming a new advocacy group they say will give them a stronger voice concerning their property rights.
By Lori Kesinger
The move comes from decades of unfair and unethical practices by big businesses upon landowners in Fallon County and the surrounding region.
For the last year and a half, numerous landowners have been implementing the Property Rights Organization, LLC (PRO). PRO was recently incorporated and is ready to formally organize. All individuals interested in property rights are invited to a meeting Wednesday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Thee Garage in Baker. The purpose of the meeting will be to gather information and select officers and board members.
PRO would like landowners to become one voice to keep everyone informed and on an equal playing field with big businesses whether the concern is pipelines, water rights, hunting rights, power lines, or roadways.
“At this point, special interest groups come in and basically snipe us off one at a time because we are ‘independent contractors’. We want to get some continuity between ‘contractors’ so we can get fair and just compensation,” said Vern “Turk” Stark. “Especially in agriculture, our independence is the one thing that hurts us the most in these situations. We don’t necessarily share information and are suspicious of people. We are trying to get past that so when these companies, who have already done their homework, don’t just pick us off.”
PRO would not be involved in any litigation but would provide information to help protect landowners and promote legislation.
“Our second goal is to get legislation changed so we don’t even have to have this group,” Kevin Braun said.
“We can provide you with information for legal avenues if needed or somebody you can talk to for advice on legal issues,” Sharon Gookin added.
PRO is not limited to Montana or even Fallon County. The group would like to have the active participation of all landowners in the surrounding region. “We don’t know where this will go if people don’t participate or aren’t willing players in participating in the group. We are not about making money. It is strictly about helping each other,” Stark said.
PRO is not against development, but seeks equal and just compensation and protection of property rights and ownerships.
“We don’t want to come across as a group against moving ahead, but we see there is a lot of demands on our ownerships anymore. As individuals we are not capable of defending ourselves against the big companies. We need to band together,” Stark said.
For more information or questions, contact Kevin Braun 406-778-2703, Vern “Turk” Stark 406-588-3591, Steve Kreitinger 406-796-2613, Tom Jardee 406-775-8868, Todd Barkley 406-772-5659, or Sharon Gookin 406-778-2766.