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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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MT-PLAN Frequently Asked Questions


Question: What is the Montana Public Lands Access Network (MT-PLAN)?

Answer: The MT-PLAN is a voluntary contribution account and grant program administered by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). Funds are used by the DNRC to acquire public access easements from private landowners who are compensated to provide public access across their private lands to public lands for recreational purposes.

 

Landowner FAQs

Question: What is the incentive for a landowner to participate in the MT-PLAN?

Answer: The MT-PLAN may compensate private landowners fair market value for the cost of an access easement or enhancement project on their private property. Payments received by landowners for easements providing public access to public lands are exempt from taxation, according to Section 15-30-2110, MCA and subject to provisions in the Internal Revenue Code.

 

Question: What lands qualify for the MT-PLAN program?

Answer: Private lands that an access easement or enhancement project could cross to provide public access to inaccessible or difficult to access public lands or waters and state trust lands are eligible to apply.

 

Question: Are private lands that access state trust lands eligible? 

Answer: Yes. However, public access easements or enhancement projects may not provide access to leased state land if the lessee is not the landowner granting access to the parcel. Furthermore, if the MT-PLAN project would provide access to state trust land the easement must also provide access for all lawful purposes to the state trust land.

 

Question: Can MT-PLAN funds be used to pay for litigation to a disputed access?

Answer: No, MT-PLAN funds may not be used for litigation.

 

Question: What is the value of an easement or enhancement project?

Answer: Value will be negotiated between the landowner and the DNRC, with final approval made by the State Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board).

 

Question: What is the difference between an easement and an enhancement project? 

Answer: An easement is a legal right of way across private property for the public to use for access to public lands or waters. An enhancement project accommodates public use across private lands to access public lands or waters through easements and access accommodations such as designated parking areas, signs, and trail corridors that improve access to hard to reach public lands and waters.

 

Question: What are the terms of a MT-PLAN easement? 

Answer: A MT-PLAN easement must be for the entirety of the year, and can be for a term of no less than three years, and up to permanent access in perpetuity.

 

Question: When will contracts be awarded and payment made to landowners?

Answer: Contracts will be awarded subject to Land Board approval.

 

Question: How do I apply?

Answer: Contact Ryan Weiss, Public Access Specialist at the DNRC via phone at (406)444-5576 or email ryanweiss@mt.gov for application materials.  

 

Question: When are applications due?

Answer: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The DNRC Public Access Specialist will work with interested landowners to develop a proposal.

 

Recreationists FAQs

Question: How do I donate to the MT-PLAN grant program?

Answer: Donations can be made through Montana’s DNRC or Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) websites, an authorized wildlife conservation and combination license vendor, or through direct donations to the DNRC. Online donations can be made at the DNRC website: http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/trust/mt-plan or from FWP online license service: https://app.mt.gov/als/index/index.html

 

Question: Is my donation tax deductible?

Answer: Taxpayers may deduct donations to the MT-PLAN grant program from their Montana taxable incomes. The DNRC recommends donors consult with a tax professional for guidance.

 

Question: What kind of recreational use is available for the MT-PLAN projects?

Answer: MT-PLAN public access easements or enhancement projects must be made available for the entirety of the year for all general recreational uses compatible with the public land the MT-PLAN easement or enhancement project accesses.

 

Question: Can I hunt or recreate on private lands that the MT-PLAN easement or enhancement project passes through to access public lands?

Answer: No, a MT-PLAN public access easement or enhancement project does not convey to the public any right to hunt or otherwise recreate on the private lands through which they can pass to reach public lands.

 

Question: How do I know where MT-PLAN easement or enhancement projects are located?

Answer: MT-PLAN projects will be posted on the DNRC website: http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/trust/mt-plan; and posted with MT-PLAN signs at the project site.

 

Question: Who decides what MT-PLAN projects are awarded?

Answer: The DNRC will initiate a public scoping process for potential MT-PLAN projects. After the scoping period, the DNRC will make a recommendation to the Land Board for approval of potential MT-PLAN grant awards.

 

Question: How do I participate in the public scoping process and Land Board decision-making process?

Answer: The DNRC accepts public comments during the scoping process and considers all submitted comments in formulating a recommendation to the Land Board. The Land Board meetings are public meetings and the public is invited to attend and participate during public comment.