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"Lewis and Clark were sent out to explore for commercial purposes," Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said. "They had to go around the natural falls, but the portaging doesn't render a continuous highway all of a sudden non navigable."

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Twenty six states and numerous conservation groups are backing the state, saying a decision in favor of PPL would create a patchwork segmentation to the title to the beds of navigable rivers.

The stakes are huge for PPL, amounting to more than $52 million in back rent with interest so far. The power company said the state has never made a similar title claim over the last 100 years that many of the dams have ex isted. Department of Justice, livestock associations, farm bureaus and corporations that Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Br - Total Crimson

Dam dispute draws on Lewis and Clark s travels

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The result could restrict public access to those rivers, make wildlife management more difficult and throw into question thousands of leases, agreements and easements granted to river users, the states and conservation groups said.

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expedition from two centuries ago in a dispute that could affect who controls water ways across the nation. PPL Montana is appealing a ruling by the Montana Supreme Court that determined the state owns the lands beneath 10 hydroelectric dams, including Holter Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black And Pink Dam, sitting on three Montana rivers. The state court said PPL must pay the state rent dating back to 2000, amounting to more than $52 million with interest. (AP Photo/Great Falls Tribune, Stuart S. White, File)

PPL Montana is appealing a Montana Supreme Court ruling that the state owns the lands beneath nine hydroelec tric dams sitting on three Montana rivers, and that the company owes Montana tens of millions of dollars in rent.

The fact that Lewis and Clark had to get out of their boats and spend weeks carrying their supplies around the falls proves that portion of the river is non navigable and should not fall under state title, the company said.

Montana claimed that the title to all the land under the Nike Air Max 90 Essential Mens White

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The same is true for a hydroelectric dam that sits on Thompson Falls in the Missouri River, PPL argued. The falls may connect two navigable portions of the river, but the falls themselves are not navigable, the company said.

This April 3, 2001 file photo shows the Holter Dam on the Missouri River near Wolf Creek, Mont., that is pri vately owned by Pennsylvania Power and Light. Montana Supreme Court justices will hear arguments Dec.7, 2011 that invoke the Lewis and Clark Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Infrared

The third river, the Madison, was not used for commercial purposes at the time of statehood, and the state court improperly considered post statehood use in making its ruling, PPL said.

Missouri, Clark Fork and Madison rivers within its border transferred when it became a state in 1889. When deciding navigability, the entire river should be considered _ not just segments _ and a portage around a natural obstruction does not interrupt the flow of those rivers as a highway of commerce, the state says.

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PPL argued its dams are built on non navigable portions of Missouri and Clark Fork rivers _ the Great Falls of the Missouri and Thompson Falls on the Clark Fork _ therefore the title to the lands under those dams should not go to the state.

Montana attorneys, on the other hand, argue that portages around naturally occurring obstructions were part of the commercial navigation of the river at the time. The heavy use of the Missouri from Lewis and Clark's time, through the state's gold rush and past statehood in 1889, proves the Missouri's commercial navigability, they said.

say giving the state that previously uncontested title to the submerged lands could disrupt property rights across the nation.

"I think it was probably a continuous water highway until you got to a natural impediment _ the Great Falls," said PPL Montana spokesman David Hoffman. "Walking around the river for 17 miles doesn't make that waterway navi gable."

HELENA, Mont. Supreme Court justices will hear arguments invoking the Lewis and Clark expedi tion from two centuries ago when they take up a dispute Wednesday that could affect who controls waterways across the nation.

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The titles to riverbeds beneath commercially navigable waterways go to states upon their entry to the United States. Non navigable riverbed ownership stays with the federal government upon statehood. Both sides cite Lewis and Clark's 1805 portage around the Great Falls of the Missouri River in their arguments on whether the rivers were commercially navigable at the time Montana became a state.

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At that time, the explorers had to carry their supplies for 17 miles around the Great Falls. The heart of the current case centers on whether that made the particular portion of the Missouri non navigable for title purposes, as PPL argues.

The state noted a passage from Lewis' journal in which the explorer directly addresses the Missouri's navigabil ity, writing: "The world can furnish an example of a river running to the extent which the Missouri and Jefferson's do through such a mountainous country and at the same time so navigable as they are."

"If Montana's action is allowed to stand, other states will surely follow suit with their own judicial takings," PPL wrote in its brief to the court.

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