Praise for the PLOTS Program

February 18, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson

 

PLOTS land has opened up upland hunting options statewide

PLOTS land has opened up upland hunting options statewide

900,000; that’s a big number. In terms of acreage its 5,625 quarter sections of land or about 1,406 full sections of land. 900,000 is also the total number of acres enrolled in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s (NDG&F) Private Land Open to Sportsmen Program (PLOTS).

For the past several years, the yellow triangle of the PLOTS program, which marks the corner and edge boundaries of private properties open for hunters to use, has been a welcome sight for resident and visiting hunters who are becoming used to seeing more and more red, black and orange “NO HUNTING” signs. In an era where recreational land purchases, leasing operations, and general disdain for hunting pressure is increasing, the PLOTS program helps provide access to various habitats that hold the game species that outdoorsmen pursue

Through efforts of NDG&F and its agents, the PLOTS program has flourished, adding approximately 100,000 acres to last year’s total. Through the generous contribution of land for a small sum, landowners are what really make the program grow.

While not all PLOTS land consists of rearing grass, cattail sloughs or shelterbelts, most every PLOTS has some sort of food or cover available to wildlife. There are many varieties of land in the program, including the Wetlands Reserve Program – which provides additional incentives to landowners looking to restore, protect and enhance wetlands; and the Working Lands Program – a short-term program based on the wildlife value of lands that are actively farmed or ranched in the state.

For the most part, PLOTS lands are open to walking hunters from September 1 through April 1 of each year. For waterfowl hunters looking to access sloughs on program lands, landowners may grant access via motor vehicle. Green signs below the standard triangle let hunters know when vehicular access is allowed. Similarly, orange “no shooting towards buildings” and “no hunting in unharvested crop” signs help further define the rules of the program.

For many hunters, including myself, PLOTS has been a benefit to nearly every hunting trip taken in North Dakota. Whether hunting somewhere new, or looking for a quick walk after work, the program’s lands are always available. Whether it is ducks and whitetails in the east, or upland and mulies in the west, PLOTS provides hunters with a place to go when they don’t know the local landowners. In this day and age of corporate farming and increasing non-resident land ownership, that is a benefit to all.

These lands must be treated with respect. Hunters are advised to treat every parcel of PLOTS as if it were their own – picking up after themselves and others right down to the last shotgun shell if possible. Respecting the no motor vehicle restriction and aiming shots away from houses and farm buildings is another positive act that all hunters must take in order to continue the goodwill between outdoorsmen, landowners and the NDG&F in this program.

If the owner of the program land lives nearby, it is also a good idea to offer them a thank you before or after the hunt. Without their entrance into one of the many program contracts, PLOTS simply would not exist. PLOTS is a proactive method of ensuring hunting access for all, and without the landowners, NDG&F and ethical sportsmen, the program would not be all that it has become. The program’s future is bright, and the use of PLOTS land, has brightened many trips for me and other hunters in this state with a good walk, plentiful game species, and a bird or two in the bag.

PLOTS guides are available at most license vendors and on the internet at www.gf.nd.gov. Download maps or pick a guide up today to find program lands near you. Whether you pursue ducks, grouse, deer or other species, the PLOTS program provides the opportunity for everyone to enjoy a positive experience…in our outdoors.


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