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Doug Leier: Learning more about North Dakota's PLOTS program

It is important for the North Dakota Game Department to work with private landowners to manage wildlife and provide habitat and access.

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The Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) program is a component of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Lands Initiative.
Ashley Peterson/North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.

WEST FARGO – Hunters in North Dakota have long enjoyed the opportunity the Game and Fish Department Private Land Open To Sportsmen (PLOTS) program has provided. It’s hard to believe this program began back in 1997, and hunters who were about 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.” As with 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 department’s Private Lands Initiative is the primary mechanism for applying this mission on the private landscape of North Dakota.

The PLI has three main goals:

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  • 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.
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Q: What is PLOTS?

A: Private Land Open To Sportsmen is a component of the department’s Private Lands Initiative.

Q: Why is PLOTS important?

A: 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.

Q: How is PLOTS funded?

A: PLOTS is funded by hunters. In 1997, the North Dakota Legislature’s 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.

PLOTS notes

  • 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 North Dakota Century Code 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.

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Finally, what hasn’t changed since the beginning is for all hunters to treat PLOTS tracts as if they were their 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.
Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at dleier@nd.gov.
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