Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands (UPL) Program or the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) Program.
These programs are designed to provide recreational public access to state (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no or limited legal public access currently exists.
For enrollment in UPL, landowners will receive a tax credit in the amount of $750 per agreement and up to a maximum of $3,000 in tax credits in exchange for allowing access across the private lands, roads or trails to reach inaccessible public land. Landowners must hold the public land lease and decide how the public may cross their private property for all recreations.
For enrollment in PALA, landowners will receive monetary compensation, including possible infrastructure reimbursements (e.g., gravel, culverts, cattle guards, etc.) to facilitate public access to inaccessible public lands. Landowners must hold the public land lease. Compensation amounts vary based on a variety of factors, and agreements are limited to up to $15,000 each with one landowner possibly holding multiple agreements. The governor-appointed Private Land/Public Wildlife (PL/PW) Advisory Committee will review complete applications at their upcoming May meeting and make a recommendation to the FWP director on whether to extend an agreement.
“Offering a tax credit or payment in exchange for public access to inaccessible public land is a unique and innovative way to respect private property rights and increase public access,” said Jason Kool, FWP hunting access program manager. “We hope these opportunities and incentives appeal to many landowners throughout the state.”
While Montana contains millions of acres of public land, much of this land is inaccessible to the public and requires landowner permission for access.
More information about these two programs, including enrollment criteria, application forms, and fact sheets describing these FWP public access programs, can be found at: fwp.mt.gov/landowner.