Last week's column on the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program generated some questions about other agency efforts to work with private landowners.

The PLOTS program falls under the Game and Fish Department's Private Land Initiative, which is designed to work with private landowners on managing wildlife and wildlife habitat. The PLI has three main goals.
  • Conserve habitat for fish and wildlife populations.
  • Provide landowners interested in wildlife conservation with cost-sharing assistance for developing and protecting wildlife habitat.
  • Provide public opportunities to access fish and wildlife resources on private land.

The Game and Fish Department's Private Land Initiative is designed to work with private landowners on managing wildlife and wildlife habitat. (Photo courtesy NDGF)​

The PLI gives producers/landowners several options for working with Game and Fish through the PLOTS program.
  • CRP Access Program - Provides assistance with establishment and management costs associated with Conservation Reserve Program grasslands, and includes public access.
  • Working Lands Program - Short-term program based on the wildlife value of actively farmed or ranched land, which also includes public access. Biologists evaluate current farming or ranching management based on conservation practices, good stewardship and quality of hunting habitat. This program also includes public access.
  • Habitat Plot Program - Multi-year rental program with agreements that help create, enhance or protect wildlife habitat, and include public access.
  • Food Plot Program - Short-term program that provides a wildlife food source and public access.
  • Private Forest Conservation Program - Multi-year rental program that provides protection and enhancement of unique forested systems, and includes public access.
  • Wetlands Reserve Program - A partnership program between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and Game and Fish, this program provides incentives to producers who enroll land in WRP. The primary purpose is to restore, protect or enhance wetlands and associated uplands, as well as provide public access.
  • Tree Planting Cost-Sharing Program - Provides assistance with establishment costs of tree plantings. The goal is to enhance wildlife habitat and conservation on private land and provide public access.
Game and Fish also works with other state and federal agencies, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, Mule Deer Foundation, Pheasants for the Future and other local wildlife clubs to carry out wildlife habitat projects on some PLOTS tracts.

Waterfowling and Aquatic Nuisance Species

With waterfowl hunting now in full gear I should also note the fight against the spread of aquatic nuisance species is a year-round effort and not just about summer boating and fishing. The same rules regarding water and aquatic vegetation transportation apply to fall duck and goose hunters as well.

Waterfowl hunters must remove plants and plant fragments from decoys, strings and anchors; and remove plant seeds and plant fragments from waders and other equipment before leaving hunting areas.

Other regulations include:
  • Remove all water from decoys, boats, motors, trailers and other watercraft; and remove all aquatic plants from boats and trailers before leaving a marsh or lake.
  • Drain plugs on boats must remain pulled when the boat is in transit away from a water body.
The Game and Fish Department also realizes the use of some terrestrial vegetation such as cattails and bulrushes is important for hiding duck boats. These may be transported as camouflage on boats, but all other aquatic vegetation must be cleaned from boats prior to transportation into or within North Dakota.

More ANS information, including regulations, is available by visiting the Game and Fish Department website, Leier is a biologist for the Game and Fish Department.