Welcome to the 2013 Conservation Private Land Open To Sportsmen Guide. We’re again excited to provide this informative booklet that features lands open to public hunting across North Dakota.
Our goal continues to be that of maintaining PLOTS acres for hunters to access, with habitat of the highest quality to attract and hold those animals we love to hunt and have become part of North Dakota’s heritage. After all, it’s the habitat that allows those animals to thrive on the landscape.
It’s a critically important time in North Dakota as Conservation Reserve Program acres continue to decline, and what remains will be even more important for wildlife production.
The southern half of the state looked to be going into a drought coming off a relatively mild winter. Reduced CRP acres, in association with sparse moisture, made it look relatively bleak for those animals depending on grasslands for nesting, food production and recruitment into the population. But that changed relatively rapidly when the precipitation pattern took a turn. Those areas that looked sparse for habitat changed into lush expanses of grass. A crucial time for upland birds is spring and early summer. Mother Nature will still play a part in how fall hunting seasons fare, but the moisture definitely improved the odds.
It’s no secret that CRP had been a major part of the Game and Fish Department’s PLOTS program over the years and it will continue to play a role. But with reductions in CRP acres, Department staff has shifted some efforts to other areas with high value habitat.
Our philosophy continues to be that the public should have the greatest opportunity possible to access and utilize those resources. Based on past surveys, the majority of hunters who access PLOTS are satisfied with their experiences. The PLOTS Guide provides one part of the puzzle in informing the sporting public which lands are accessible.
The PLOTS program continues to be a widely supported program, but it’s not meant to be the only areas we hunt. Don’t forget about those areas that aren’t in PLOTS. Approximately 95 percent of the land in North Dakota is privately owned, which means that many animals are residing on private lands. Take advantage of PLOTS and other public hunting opportunities, but I encourage you to take the time to get to know those people in rural areas who make their living off the land.
I continue to emphasize how important it is to respect the land on which you hunt and the game you pursue. Also respect those utilizing that same area you might be hunting. We have an ongoing obligation to respect the land private landowners allow us to access, be they in the PLOTS program or not.
We continue to have great hunting and fishing opportunities in North Dakota and there are many people who are envious of what we have. Remember to respect landowners, animals, the land and other hunters. At the end of the day, you’ll be rewarded for your experience.