PLOTS Guide - Introduction

Lawmakers in the 1997 legislative session called on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to create programs for landowner assistance that encouraged public access to private lands for hunting.

That authorization 20 years ago was the dawn of what is arguably the Game and Fish Department’s most familiar program to its outdoors-minded constituency.

The fact that the Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program has been on the landscape for so many years is testament to the many willing landowners across the state, the dedication and ingenuity of Department staff who administer the continually evolving program, and to those hunters who respect the land, often treating the tracts as if they were their own.

In a state where the vast majority of land is under private ownership, the PLOTS program also spotlights the Department’s solid working relationships with many landowners, and the partnership between farmers, ranchers and the hunting community, as it is the fees of the latter that help provide the PLOTS acres.

There are many moving parts that determine the number and quality of PLOTS acres on North Dakota’s rural landscape. This year, extensive drought in parts of the state is impacting farmers, ranchers, wildlife and habitat.

Understanding this, and the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved emergency haying of CRP, which the Game and Fish Department supported, hunters will recognize the influence this action had on some PLOTS tracts in the state. While Kevin Kading, Department private land section leader, addresses this issue in more detail in the question-and-answer section of this guide, I agree with him in that, "We need to be reasonable and flexible with landowners, but we also need to make sure we are still providing the wildlife habitat hunters are expecting."

As Kevin said, it’s a balancing act.

When hunting PLOTS this fall, I encourage all hunters to treat the land and those who own the land with respect. Pick up your litter, and trash maybe left behind by others, and don’t clean your game in an approach or where people passing by can see.

Remember, landowners who enter into PLOTS agreements with the Game and Fish Department do so willingly. They do so with the understanding and trust that hunters will leave little trace of their passing.

The fall hunting season is just around the corner as I write this and I anticipate good hunting for the many people who embrace the state’s hunting heritage. Be safe, courteous and enjoy what our great state of North Dakota has to offer.

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