The Recreational Use Program was established by House Bill 778 during the 1991 legislative session and became effective on March 1, 1992. Legally accessible state trust lands may be used for recreational activities by persons who hold appropriate state land recreational use licenses, provided the lands are not closed or restricted for such use by rule or by the department. The type of license required depends on the type of activity conducted. With the exception of hunting, fishing, and trapping, access to state land to enjoy recreational activities falling within the definition of "general recreational use", which, with a few exceptions, includes most forms of noncommercial and nonconcentrated recreational activities, are authorized to persons 12 years and older who possess a State Land Recreational License, which can be purchased from all Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (DFWP) license agents. Effective March 2004, access to state trust lands for hunting and fishing is authorized under a wildlife conservation license available from DFWP offices and license agents. A $2.00 fee was added to that license for those recreational uses. The fee for trapping on state land is also included in the cost of the wildlife conservation license; however, as provided below, folks wishing to trap on state land must first obtain a Special Recreational Use License from DNRC.
Special Recreational Use Licenses, which are available only from DNRC area offices, are required for concentrated recreational use conducted by groups or organizations, for commercial activities such as outfitting, for trapping, and for other types of recreational uses if other than hunting, fishing, or not within the definition of general recreational use.