By Doug Leier
North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Hunters born 35 years ago or more have long enjoyed the opportunity the North Dakota Game and Fish Department Private Land Open To Sportsmen has provided. Hard to believe this program began back in 1997, and hunters who were around 10 years old may remember paging through the paper map guide looking for places to chase pheasants, deer and ducks.
Older hunters then and now commonly remark, “You don’t know how good you’ve got it now.” Like many things in life, the wise, veteran hunters aren’t wrong. Even if you don’t want to admit it.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s mission is to protect, conserve and enhance fish and wildlife populations and their habitats for sustained consumptive and nonconsumptive use. The private land initiative is the primary mechanism for applying this mission on the private landscape of North Dakota.
The PLI has three main goals:
• Conservation of habitats for fish and wildlife populations.
• Provide landowners interested in wildlife conservation with cost-share assistance for
developing and protecting wildlife habitat.
• Provide public opportunities to access fish and wildlife resources on private land.
What is PLOTS?
Private Land Open To Sportsmen is a component of the Department’s private land initiative.
Why is PLOTS important?
It is important for the Department to work with private landowners to manage wildlife and provide habitat and access. Access to private land is necessary to ensure hunter retention and to welcome the next generation of hunters.
How is PLOTS funded?
PLOTS is funded by hunters. In 1997, the passing of HB1395 created the Private Land Habitat and Access Improvement Fund, which is funded by sales of hunting licenses and interest accrued from the Department’s general fund balance.
● All Private Land Open To Sportsmen property is open only for public walk-in access for the purpose of hunting within legal hunting seasons, or as signed. Walk-in access is defined as an individual traveling by foot with any legal weapon, equipment, accessories, and provisions for the purposes of hunting.
● All other activities require written permission from the property owner.
● Hunting weapons, equipment, accessories, or provisions may not be left
unattended on PLOTS without written permission of the property owner.
● Any person who violates this section is guilty of a noncriminal offense.
Discrepancies – If you find an area listed as a PLOTS tract, but that is not marked with yellow triangular PLOTS signs from the Department, we suggest that you err on the side of caution and avoid entering the area until you have checked it out with us.
Nonresident hunting restriction – In accordance with NDCC 20.1-08-04.9, nonresidents may not hunt any game during the first seven days of the pheasant season on North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife management areas or on
Conservation PLOTS areas.
Finally, what hasn’t changed since the beginning is for all hunters to treat PLOTS tracts as if they were your own:
• Remove all trash and empty shells.
• Do not block field approaches or gates with vehicles.
• Clean game well away from ditches and approaches.
• Steer clear of livestock.
• Report illegal acts to Report All Poachers at 701-328-9921.
Featured Photo: The yellow triangle signs marking the boundaries of PLOTS lands are common to those who have grown up with them over the past 25 years. For the future, they represent places for new hunters to enjoy in partnership with landowners, NDG&F and the sporting public. NDG&F Photo.
Leier is a biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department.