Unlocking Public Lands Program Deadline March 15th
By Toby Trigger


Millions of acres of public land in Montana are inaccessible for outdoors men and women but land owners have until March 15th to receive up to $3000 in annual tax credit by allowing access through private lands.

According to the FWP website the objective of the Unlocking Public Lands Program is to allow members of the public to cross parcels of enrolled private land to gain access to otherwise inaccessible parcels of state or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land for the purpose of fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking, bird-watching and other forms of outdoor recreation compatible with the use of public lands.

The program allows private landowners to enter into contractual agreements with Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks (FWP) to provide public recreational access where no legal public access currently exists, and receive an annual tax credit in the amount of $750 per agreement (up to a maximum of $3,000 tax credit per year) for allowing such access.

The highlights of the program objectives are as follows:

•Public land parcels are eligible for enrollment if they cannot be accessed by: ◾public road, right-of-way, or easement;
◾public waters;
◾adjacent federal, state, county, or municipal land that is open to public use; or
◾adjacent private land because that landowner has not granted permission to cross.

•Public land parcels are not eligible for enrollment if they are restricted or closed to general recreational use by the land management agency that owns or has legal control of the public land parcel.
•Public land parcels are not eligible for enrollment if they are actively enrolled in any FWP program that already provides public access to the public land parcel, such as Block Management, Habitat Montana, Open Fields for Game Bird Hunters, or Upland Game Bird Enhancement Program.
•If hunting is allowed on the private land through which the public is allowed to pass to reach the public land parcel, that hunting cannot be managed through outfitting or commercial hunting. NOTE: Enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands Program does not convey to the public any right to hunt or otherwise recreate on the private land through which they are allowed to pass to reach public land.
•If a state land parcel has a DNRC lease, only the lessee is eligible to enter into an Unlocking Public Lands Program contract to provide access to that state land parcel.

For applications and further information about unlocking public lands visit:

http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/hunterAccess/unlockingPublicLands/






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