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CabinCabinsite Public Interest


In 2014, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) began the process of making cabin and home site lease lots available for sale at the request of the lessee, in accordance with Montana Code Annotated 77-2-317 through 318. A Pilot Cabin Site Sale Program was initiated to carry out this new sales concept within the existing DNRC budget. This letter is to provide information on the outcomes of the pilot program, as well as anticipated sale activity for the upcoming year.

2014 Pilot Cabin Site Sales Program

In November 2013, DNRC sent out a letter to all lessees and improvement owners explaining the pilot program, and soliciting interest in participation in the pilot program. The letter also identified specific criteria each cabin site must meet in order to be eligible for sale. These criteria were:

  • whether the parcel is currently under an active lease agreement and all lease fees are paid;
  • whether the land has been surveyed by a licensed surveyor and title can be conveyed using that survey.
  • whether sale is consistent with the Land Board's constitutional fiduciary duty;
  • whether the parcel possess clear title and whether any mortgage holder consents to sale;
  • whether there are any outstanding lease violations on the parcel;
  • whether, and to what degree the sale of the parcel would affect access to other public lands; and
  • the extent of infrastructure, such as roads, utilities, power, telephone, water, or sewer availability;

DNRC received 126 responses to the November 2013 letter, requesting to participate in the pilot program. Of those responses, 48 were eligible for sale according to the criteria stated above. In February 2014, DNRC randomly selected 5 lots from the pool of 48 eligible respondents. The individual sites selected were located in the following areas:

  • Echo Lake and Rogers Lake in Flathead County
  • Elbow Lake and Morrell Flats in Missoula County
  • Bear Canyon in Gallatin County

As a part of the sale process, appraisals were completed on each sale lot, which included individual values for the land, as well as the improvements under consideration for sale. DNRC published notices of the sales in local newspapers and on the department’s website, and also conducted open houses. Following is a table summarizing the status of the sites in the 2014 pilot sale program:

Appraised Values
Lot Land Improvements Competitive Bids Status Purchaser
Bear Canyon $ 70,000 $415,000 No SOLD Lessee
Lot 16, Elbow Lake $150,000 $45,000 Auction Pending Auction Dec. 8th Auction Pending
Lot 13, Morrell Flats $50,000 $100,000 No SOLD Lessee
Lot 7, Rogers Lake $340,000 $190,000 No No bids submitted. Lessee continues to lease. N/A
Lot 21, Echo Lake $460,000 $240,000 No SOLD Lessee

Update July 29, 2014

The status of the five lots is updated here.

Update June 30, 2014

The status of the five lots is updated here.

Update June 24, 2014

The five lots which were drawn for the 2014 Pilot Sales Program are in the appraisal and valuation stage of the sales process. When the Appraisal Review Report is completed for the appraisal of the land and the improvements, the lessees are notified of the value and can request a hearing to contest the values or ask to continue to move forward with the sales process. If the sales process moves forward, the sale will be taken to the land board to set the minimum bid. All five of the sites now have appraised values, and are at varying stages in the process. When the minimum bid is set at the Land Board, an auction date will be scheduled and the site will be marketed and listed on our Cabin Site Sales webpage.

Update February 12, 2014

There were 126 total lessees or owners of improvements that requested consideration for the 2014 Pilot Sales Program. On February 6, 2014 the Department did a random draw of qualified lease lots to select five lots to move through the program. The five lots that were drawn for the 2014 Pilot Sales Program are as follows:

Lease Number Location
Lot 21 Echo Lake
Lot 16 Elbow Lake
Lot 7 Rogers Lake
Bear Canyon Road - Bozeman
Lot 13 Morrell Flats

Lessees on these lots have been contacted via phone and letter. All other lessees or owners of improvements that requested consideration for the 2014 Pilot Sales Program were notified via letter on February 7, 2014 that they were not selected. The sale of the above lots is contingent upon approval by the Land Board. The sales are currently anticipated to be presented to the Land Board at their March 18, 2014 meeting for Preliminary Approval.

Update December 23, 2013

The Land Board approved the Proposed Administrative Rules implementing SB369 at their meeting on December 16, 2013. The Adoption Notice will be published in the Administrative Register on December 26th, and they will become effective on December 27, 2013. The Adoption Notice has been posted to the DNRC Administrative Rules Webpage. You may also view the Adoption Notice directly by clicking here.

Update November 29, 2013

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) mailed letters to all active cabinsite lessees and terminated leases with known improvements. The letter regards the sale of cabin sites and home sites.

Update October 22, 2013

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is currently soliciting comments with regard to draft Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) to implement Senate Bill 369 (SB369).

The DNRC is requesting your comments on the rules that were published in the administrative register on October 17, 2013.  These PROPOSED RULES can be viewed online, or by contacting the Department at 406-444-2074 to request that a copy be mailed to you. The Department is also conducting an environmental review of the proposed rules, and would like to solicit your comments regarding the potential impacts on the human and natural environment as a result of the proposed action.  For comments to be considered in the rulemaking process, they must be submitted in writing, or verbally at a public hearing. 

The Department will hold two public hearings:

November 6, 2013, from 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Sullivan Memorial Community Hall
3248 Highway 83
Seeley Lake, MT
*a question and answer period will be held from 6:00pm – 7:00pm

November 8, 2013, from 1:00pm-2:00pm
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Bannack Room
1625 Eleventh Avenue
Helena, MT 59601

All comments must be received by November 14, 2013. Please submit your written comments to: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Attention: Cabin Site Sales Comments, PO Box 201601, Helena, MT, 59620.  Comments may also be submitted via email to dcabinsites@mt.gov.  If you wish to submit verbal comments, they must be given at one of the two above public hearings to be considered in the rulemaking process.

Update October 18, 2013

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is considering the adoption of New Administrative Rules I - VIII, amendment of ARM 36.25.128, and repeal of ARM 36.25.131 pertaining to the sale of cabin sites and home sites. The scoping notice can be seen here.

Update October 7, 2013

Draft Administrative Rules and a Draft Pilot Sale Processing Timeline are now available. Links are found below in the "SB369 Rulemaking" box.

Update July 22, 2013

Senate Bill 369 (SB369) was a bill regarding the availability for sale, and the sale process, for trust lands designated as cabin sites or home sites.  It was passed in the 2013 regular legislative session, and became a law without the Governor’s signature on May 6, 2013.


The intent of the bill was to facilitate sales of Trust Lands that are leased as a cabin or home site.  The bill made changes to existing statutes for sales of Trust Land, specifically related to these residential sales.  Key components for cabin and home site sales as outlined in SB369 are as detailed below:  

    Allows for the sale of land bordering water bodies if that land was previously leased as a cabin or home site. (All other land bordering water bodies remains ineligible for sale)
    Reduces the amount of the bid deposit for cabin and home site sales to 5%.  (All other land sales remain at 20%)
    Provides that all sales proceeds for improvements must go to the owner of record.
    Requires the Department to pay for any required land survey and the land portion of the appraisal. (These costs are borne by the purchaser in other land sales).
    Clarifies lessee preference right to match the high bid at the auction.
    Exempts cabin and home site sales from the MEPA process.
    Requires the sale of cabin and home sites at the request of a lessee or improvements owner, only if approved by the board and is consistent with fiduciary duty of attaining full market value.
    Requires that Administrative Rules be effective by January 1, 2014.

What is Next?

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (Department) is currently in the process of writing Administrative Rules to implement the changes provided in SB369.  As part of the rule writing process, there will be opportunities for public comments including a public hearing.  A legal notice announcing the public comment period will be published in major newspapers across the state, as well as on our website:  www.dnrc.mt.gov.


As part of the legislative process, the Department submitted a Fiscal Note for SB369 that outlined the funding needed to facilitate the requirements of the bill.  Funding was necessary for the new Department costs for surveys and appraisals, and also for additional staff to facilitate the newly required sales activity added to the existing land banking program work.   The Department did not receive the requested funding; as a result, SB369 must be implemented within the limits of the existing budget. 

The Future

The Department anticipates implementing a pilot sale program in 2014 for cabin and home site sales, that will include an estimated 5-6 sales in 2014, under SB369. A limited number of cabin and home sites will be eligible to be considered for the pilot sale program, a letter will be sent in the fall of 2013 inviting eligible lessees to respond if they are interested in participating in the new pilot sales program. From the eligible lessees that respond, 5-6 will be chosen to participate in the 2014 pilot sale program. Full funding of sale costs in 2015, would allow the Department to greatly expand the sale program, as it was intended in SB369. The pilot sales process under SB369 will begin after the administrative rules are adopted.

More Information

The full text of SB369 can be viewed by clicking here.

Information on our existing land sales program can be seen on our Land Banking page here.

Update April 6, 2012

On April 5, 2012, the Montana First Judicial District Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the State of Montana from implementing any of the terms of Senate Bill 409.  This injunction also prohibits the land board or the DNRC from applying any rules or regulations adopted to implement Senate Bill 409

The court indicated that the preliminary injunction shall remain in full force and effect pending the final outcome of this case.

Until the final outcome of this case, the billing methods for individual cabin site leases will remain based on existing rules.

Update December 16, 2011

The official public comment period for the rule proposal regarding cabinsite leasing ended on December 8. The proposed adoption notice will be brought to the December 19 Land Board meeting for the board's discussion and final approval. The agenda item and the Final EA are now available.

November 10, 2011

The draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed administrative rules is now available online.

MEPA For SB409 – The EA analyzes the effects of developing and adopting administrative rules as authorized pursuant to SB409 (Chapter 401 of the 2011 Montana Session Laws and codified in part as 77-1-235 and 77-1-236, MCA).

The official comment period is 28 days beginning November 10, 2011. Comments will be accepted until December 8, 2011. Comments may be provided at one of the two public hearings described below. Comments on the EA may be submitted via email or mailed to:

SB409 Rules MEPA Comments
PO BOX 201601
Helena, MT 59620-1601

Send an emailSend an email

October 27, 2011

Rules for SB409 – Notice of Public Hearings on Proposed Adoption of New Rules I through VI and the Amendment of ARM 36.25.1011.

On October 24, 2011, the Land Board approved the initiation of the administrative rule making process based on a set of draft rules. These draft rules will implement Senate Bill 409, which was passed in the 2011 Montana regular legislative session.

The official comment period is 28 days beginning November 10, 2011. The comment period closes December 8, 2011.

Comments on the draft rules may be submitted via email or mailed to:

PO BOX 201601
HELENA MT 59620=1601

Send an emailSend an email

  • Additionally, comments on the rules will be collected at two hearings
    • December 6, 2011, at Hampton Inn – Kalispell, 1140 Hwy 2 West, Kalispell, Montana; and
    • December 7, 2011, at Seeley Lake Community Hall, 3248 Highway 83, Seeley Lake, Montana.
  • The schedule for both hearings will be the same
    • 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. informal Q&A on the draft rules
    • 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. the official hearing time

Hearings and the Q&A sessions are free and open to any interested member of the public.

In May 2010 the Land Board approved administrative rules that implemented Alternative 3B, as well as consolidated the rules for the cabinsite program under one primary set of rules. These 2010 rules are still in use and with a few exceptions, these 2010 rules will continue to be used to administer the cabinsite program. These 2010 rules may be found on the Secretary of State's web site, the rule numbers are 36.25.1001 – 36.25.1012.

CabinBioeconomics Report and Comments

September 30, 2011

Bioeconomics, Inc., of Missoula, Montana has written a report examining the lease rate for Montana school trust land cabinsites. Economist John Duffield is the owner of BioEconomics, and conducted a similar cabinsite lease rate analysis in 1993.

The DNRC is taking comments on this current study for a 30-day period. Comments may be emailed or mailed to:

Lease Report Comments
PO Box 201601
Helena, MT 59620-1601

The comment deadline is Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Comments will be compiled and made available on the DNRC website.

May 17, 2011

Agency memo on the implementation of SB 409

May 12, 2011

The governor allowed SB 409 to become law without signing the bill.
SB 409 – Tutvedt - Revise methods to establish rental fees and sale of state land cabin sites.

April 29, 2011

The Montana State Legislature passed Senate Bill 409 on April 19. SB409 may become law some time in early May. The DNRC will draft rules implementing SB409, with an expected rule adoption in early January 2012. Lessees will not see changes in their lease fees immediately as the new process will take some time to put into full effect. Once effective, a lessee must still choose to have the new methodology be applied to their lease - the change will not be automatic. To view the text of SB409, visit the legistative web site.

May 18, 2010

On May 17, 2010, the Land Board approved rules implementing the "Alternative 3B" cabinsite lease fee calculation methodology. The original rulemaking Proposal Notice and the Adoption Notice, as approved by the Land Board and filed with the Secretary of State's Office, may be viewed on DNRC's administrative rules page under "MAR 36-22-143 (Cabinsite Rules)."

The DNRC anticipates billing by May 28, 2010, the leases that have completed the five-year phase-in to 2003 values. To date, the "A" and "B" category leases have completed the phase-in. The May 28 bill will be for the amount determined by the new rules. Included with the bill will be a 2010 Supplemental Lease Agreement (2010 SLA) that lessees must sign and return to the department in order to be billed under the new rules. Those lessees that do not return the 2010 SLA will be charged rent determined according to the current "no-phase-in" methodology, 5% of the 2009 Department of Revenue appraised value. The current method will result in a higher 2010 lease payment for nearly all cabinsite lessees.

The "C," "D," and "E" category leases are still completing their five-year phase-in to 2003 values but will be mailed the 2010 SLA and have the opportunity to make lease payments based on the new rules once their phase-in is complete in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.

All lessees who have previously requested a semi-annual lease bill will receive their second half bill in early July, which is the regular billing cycle.

Related Documents

May 13, 2010

DNRC has approved the Final Environmental Review (EA) for the proposed administrative rules implementing Alternative 3B.

Ten comments were received during the comment period on the draft EA held from April 5 to May 5, 2010.

April 21, 2010

All comments received from the rules hearings (Jan. and Feb. 2010), and the MEPA scoping (Mar. 2010) are now posted here on the cabinsite information page.

Also on that web page is a link to the completed draft Environmental Review (EA) and Finding Notice for the proposed administrative rules implementing Alternative 3B. Alternative 3B is DNRC's recommended alternative in the Finding Notice for the EA.

DNRC is soliciting comments on the draft EA. All cabinsite lessees were mailed notice of the EA posting on the DNRC web site and the comment solicitation. All comments will be considered before a decision is final. Comments must be submitted in writing by Wednesday, May 5, 2010. Send comments to: Attn: Cabinsite Rules MEPA Comments, PO Box 201601 Helena, MT 59620-1601.

Today an informational post card is being mailed to all cabinsite lessees describing the extension of the deadline to appeal the 2009 DOR appraised value to June 30, 2010.

At this time, the DNRC expects to present the draft rules to the Land Board for final approval at the May 17, 2010, land board meeting.

April 19, 2010

Comments from the Cabinsite Rules Comment Period, December 23, 2009 to February 11, 2010

Transcript of Rules Hearings, February 3 & 4, 2010

Comments from MEPA Scoping Period, February 19 to March 19, 2010
Part 1, Part 2

Summary of Comments from
Scoping Meetings
, March 2 & 4, 2010

April 6, 2010

DNRC completed a draft Environmental Review (EA) for the proposed administrative rules implementing Alternative 3B. Alternative 3B is DNRC's preferred alternative for adjusting the way lease fees are calculated for cabin sites on state trust land.

DNRC is soliciting comments on the draft EA. All comments will be considered before a decision is final. Comments must be submitted in writing by Wednesday, May 5, 2010. Send comments to: DNRC, Attn: Cabinsite Rules MEPA Comments, PO Box 201601, Helena, MT 59620.

To request a printed copy of the Draft EA, call 406-444-0518.

March 29, 2010

Since the late December 2009 mailing of the draft rules and an invitation to comment on the draft rules, the rules timeline has changed slightly.

It had been stated that the final rules draft would go before the land board for approval in March; however, at this time it seems likely the rules will go to the May 17, 2010 Land Board hearing to request approval.

The DNRC will inform residential leaseholders when the rules are going before the land board. The schedule and agenda for land board items may be found on the DNRC Meeting's page.

Two hearings were held in February to collect rules-specific comments. We received 70 email comments, 15 mailed comments, 28 verbal comments at the hearing in Seeley Lake on February 4, 2010 and 19 verbal comments from the Kalispell hearing on February 3, 2010.

On February 19, 2010, all lessees notified by mail that DNRC is completing an Environmental Assessment to analyze the environmental impacts of implementing the rules. In the same mailing lessees were notified of a 30-day scoping period and requested to provide their scoping comments on the potential impacts of the new rules on the human and natural environment. At scoping meetings in Missoula on March 2, 2010 and in Kalispell on March 4, 2010 the DNRC collected 42 and 48 comments respectively. At this time we have received 26 written comments.

The comment period for MEPA scoping comments ended on March 19, 2010.

The DNRC will put all comments on the web site, and will summarize and respond to comments as they relate to the draft rules and as scoping direction for the MEPA environmental review.

The MEPA document will be completed before the draft rules go to the land board for final approval. The public will have an opportunity to review and comment of the draft document.

December 23, 2009

On December 21, 2009, the land board approved a set of draft rules that will implement Alternative 3B and change the way the DNRC calculates annual lease fees.

The draft rules are available as part of the land board's December agenda item.

The DNRC is accepting written comments on these rules until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2010. Please submit Email comments, or Written comments may be mailed to: DNRC Cabinsite Rules, PO Box 201601, Helena MT 59620-1601.

Public hearings on the rules will be held in Kalispell and Seeley Lake.

Kalispell Red Lion, 20 North Main St, Tue. Wed. Feb. 3, 2010
6:00 to 6:50 – DNRC presentation and informal Q & A
7:00 to 8:30– Formal hearing collection of comments

Seeley Lake Community Hall, 3248 HWY 83, Thu. Feb. 4, 2010
6:00 to 6:50 – DNRC presentation and informal Q & A
7:00 to 8:30 – Formal hearing collection of comments

By the end of December the DNRC will mail a copy of the draft rules and information on providing comments to all cabinsite lessees.

November 17, 2009

Alternative 3B was one of five alternatives presented to the Land Board on October 19, 2009, to address the cabin and homesite issues. The Land Board has directed the DNRC to prepare a set of draft rules for the December 21, 2009, Land Board meeting to implement Alternative 3B. As the rules are developed lessees will have an opportunity to comment on them. This public comment period is anticipated to occur in early 2010.

The Alternative 3B FAQ document posted on this web page was prepared to provide everyone with standard terminology and to answer the most frequently asked questions so that lessees can make informed decisions.

The DNRC expects to update the lease fee calculations web page to allow lessees to type in their lease number and see anticipated lease payments under alternative 3B.

September 4, 2009

The DNRC sent a letter to each of the cabinsite lessees describing the lease fee calculation alternatives that will be presented to the Land Board as an informational item in its September 21 meeting. Included in this letter was the final DOR appraisal values for the leased lots and a calculation of lease fees for each lease as calculated under each alternative scenario. Here is an interactive web page of the lease fee calculations by alternative.

July 31, 2009

The DNRC has used lessee comments to develop two alternatives that change the way we calculate lease fees and we expect another option to be developed during August.

The alternatives will be sent out to all lessees for review in a letter at the end of August or early September. The alternatives will also be on this web page.

If you have thoughts on the alternatives after reviewing them in September you can send us an email.

We anticipate presenting the alternatives to the Land Board as an informational item at the September 21, 2009, meeting.

Then at the Land Board's October 19, 2009, meeting the alternatives would be presented again. The Land Board's September meeting will be informational though it's likely that the board will take final action on the matter at its October meeting.

The Land Board meeting schedule can be found on the meetings page.

July 10, 2009

An informational post card describing the current status of the cabin site alternatives process and directing people to this web page was mailed to all lessees July 9, 2009.

Additionally, a list serv for cabin site alternatives process information was developed.

All email, transcribed, and hand-written comments collected from cabin site lessees about the cabin site alternatives process have been compiled and are ready for viewing on this web page.

July 2, 2009

Thank you to all the cabin site lessees who took time to attend comment meetings last week in Seeley Lake and Kalispell. We had similar attendance in both locations: 105 in Seeley Lake and 107 in Kalispell.

We collected many comments at both meetings, and currently have 58 email comments that came in to our email address.

We are compiling those comments and expect to have them on this web page by mid-July.

Also, for faster communication we expect to start an email list-serv. The list-serv subscription will be free, and the DNRC will send out update notifications via e-mail to all lessees who sign-up on the list serv.

The Montana DNRC is currently evaluating its process for calculating lease fees.

All residential lease payments are based on appraised values developed by the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR is now in the process of completing its current appraisal cycle. We expect to receive the final appraised values for DNRC residential lease lots this summer.

The DNRC recognizes that current appraised values, coupled with the economic downturn,has caused concern for some lessees, so as an agency we are making plans to address this situation. We areconducting an internal review to see if there are alternatives to the way we determine full market value for state cabin sites. We are also reviewing the situation with State Land Board staff.

As part of this reviewthe DNRC is hosting two public meetings to take comments from lessees as we go forward.

Seeley Lake Community Hall, 3248 HWY 83, Mon. June 22, 2009, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Kalispell Red Lion, 20 North Main St, Tue. June 23, 2009, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Maroon ArrowWritten comments can be sent to dnrccabins2009@mt.gov from now until June 30, 2009.


Dept. of Natural Resources & Conservation
1625 Eleventh Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074
Fax: (406) 444-2684