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Take Care of State Trust Lands, Eliminate Wildfire Starts During Hunting Season

With the start of hunting season, many people will turn to publicly accessible lands to pursue game animals. This access is accompanied by the responsibility of the user to care for the land and understand various rules and restrictions across ownership types. It is your obligation to Know Before You Go.

"State Trust Lands are a unique holding within state-managed lands in Montana," said Jessica Hoag, DNRC recreation coordinator. "These working lands help generate revenue for schools and other public institutions in our state."

Managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, State Trust Lands are leased for a variety of uses to generate revenue. In 2022, 46.3 million dollars were distributed to the common school trust.

Damage to State Lands caused by concentrated recreation and wildfire greatly reduces the revenue-generating capacity of the land, threatening funding to Montana kids.

So far in 2023, 51 wildfires have started on State Trust Land. Roughly 50% of these wildfires were human caused with another 22% of an undetermined cause – but suspected to be human caused. It is important to remember that wildfires can occur at any time of year and hunting season is no exception.

"We all have a part to play in caring for the land and we ask that anyone recreating or hunting on legally accessible State Trust Land or other lands open to the public take a few simple steps to reduce your impact," said Hoag.

Follow these few steps to hunt and recreate responsibly and to do your part to care for State Trust Land:

• Check local rules, closures, and restrictions before recreating or hunting on State Trust Land.

• Ensure you possess the proper licenses and permits, including a Conservation License.

• Park in areas free of tall grass to prevent sparking a wildfire with hot vehicle exhaust and do not block gates.

• When it comes to trash and debris: Pack It In, Pack It Out.

• Know your surroundings and discharge firearms in a careful and prudent manner. Firearms may not be discharged within a quarter mile of an inhabited dwelling or outbuilding or on State Trust Land with a firearm restriction in place.

• Only drive on designated federal, state, county, and any other roads regularly maintained by the county, or on roads which have also been designated as open.

• Check out MTFIREINFO.ORG for current fire restrictions. If building a campfire, ensure that the area surrounding your fire is clear of vegetation and other combustibles and don't position fires under branches or overhanging vegetation.

• Never leave a fire unattended and always make sure your fire is completely out by stirring it with water and dirt until cold to the touch. If It's Too Hot to Touch, It's Too Hot to Leave.

• Use only certified weed free forage for horses and other pack animals.

For more information or specific questions on state land, please refer to or contact a local Department field office.