Ted Turner makes a deal

  Thanks to a land swap, Montana commoners will no longer be able to hunt, fish or hike on state lands nestled deep within the private kingdom of media mogul Ted Turner and his wife, Jane Fonda.

Turner didn't like uninvited guests invading the Flying D Ranch southwest of Bozeman, Mont., so he offered the state a deal it couldn't refuse. In exchange for 6,167 acres of school trust land within the boundaries of his Flying D, Turner turned over to the state 11,630 acres inside a second ranch south of Alder and 1,058 acres near Great Falls.

Sportsmen who didn't like the deal challenged it in court. One of the main complaints was the loss of fishing opportunities on several prized streams. But District Judge Thomas Honzel approved the exchange in late October, acknowledging that it would not please everyone.

"The purpose of the state trust lands is not for the benefit of the public but for Montana's public schools," he said. State officials said the swap would increase the value of trust lands by $217,000 and generate an additional $6,577 annually for Montana's public schools.

Besides, Honzel pointed out, fishermen can still fish inside Turner's ranch if they walk along the stream. They just can't drive across his land any longer without permission.

*Mark Matthews

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