Public Access

School Trust Lands in North Dakota, although not multiple use lands, are open to non-vehicular access by the public for recreational purposes (unless otherwise posted by the Department of Trust Lands, additional information below). Less than 1% of School Trust Lands are closed and/or have restricted access.

Respect the land - park your vehicle and walk. These lands are dedicated to producing income for the trusts. The current public access policy has been in place since 1983 and public access is only allowable if it does not conflict with the constitutional mandate to produce income for the trusts.  Access of School Trust Lands is at your own risk, NDDTL makes no representation concerning the condition, safety, or usability of the land and any improvements.


This applies to “established trails” or “two track trails” (etc.) on Trust Lands as well (unless otherwise marked; see the FAQ section for additional information). Only lessee(s) and NDDTL personnel, or individuals that have obtained proper written permission are authorized to drive on School Trust Lands for management purposes (lessees may not drive on the land while hunting). Legal access can be obtained via section lines and public roads but is not guaranteed.  In some cases, terrain and other natural obstructions may make access difficult.

  • Fee Hunting/Guiding/Dog Training 
  • Target shooting (including explosives)
  • Baiting and/or Feeding
  • Trapping (unless authorized by NDDTL) 
  • Camping nor campfires
  • Metal detecting
  • Removal of plants or plant parts for commercial or sale purpose, fossil collecting or removal of cultural artifacts
  • Smoking/Littering/Trash disposal
  • Beehives (unless authorized by NDDTL land lease)

  • Hiking
  • Bird watching
  • Berry picking (for personal consumption only)
  • Hunting
  • Fishing

Visit our Rights-of-Way page for special access permission for planned activities such as research work, large birding groups, etc. If in doubt whether an activity is allowable, please contact us or call NDDTL and request the Surface Management Division.


Posting & Restricted Access

Only signs furnished from the Department of Trust Lands can post School Trust Lands. 

Signs (see below) are available to lessees, free of charge, to post School Trust Lands. These signs must be requested by filling out the form provided below and renewed annually. Please allow a minimum of two weeks to receive signs.


  • School Trust Lands posted with this sign are closed to the public. 
  • Hunting is not allowed on Closed school trust land by anyone, including the lessee.
  • The signs are effective only for the listed dates on the sign.
  • Closed signs are not available if the tract of land is managed with a significant amount of other adjacent private, state or federal lands.
  • Closed signs may be issued when tracts of land have a known issue with trespass or public access violations.

Closed to Public Access Sign Example

  • School Trust Lands posted with this sign require lessee notification prior to anyone entering the land.
  • Lessee notification is defined as, calling and speaking to the lessee directly, calling and leaving a detailed message for the lessee or making a reasonable attempt at trying to contact the lessee.
  • Lessee is required to provide a working telephone number with voicemail set up.
  • The lessee may let the public know about conditions on the land, others who are hunting, or ask them to be careful. Notification of the lessee can be as simple as a voicemail or a note in the door. The lessee may not refuse access or place conditions on access unless the person requesting access has abused the land or personal property in the past.
  • The signs are effective only for the dates listed on the sign.

Notify Lessee Sign Example

  • School Trust Lands posted with this sign reminds the public that only walking access is allowed on school trust lands and that vehicles must be left at the gate or section line. This sign is helpful when there have been previous occurrences of vehicles on the land. 

Walking Access Only Sign Example



Please review the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below for help answering initial inquiries.  If further assistance is needed beyond these FAQs please contact the Department of Trust Lands and request the Surface Management Division.


Ground blinds and tree stands are allowed for day use. Blinds/stands must not be unattended and must be removed at the end of each day.

No, carcass dumping on School Trust Lands is not allowed.  School Trust Lands are not to be used as dump grounds for carcasses or other types of trash.  If you come across a carcass you believe may have been dumped on School Trust Lands, please contact NDDTL.

NDDTL does participate in special access permission for handicap hunting across Trust Lands in accordance with NDCC 30.1-02-05, subsection 10.  Please contact the Department and request the Surface Division for further information.

Trails across School Trust Lands are for agricultural use only and are not "established trails" for public use. Only trails clearly marked with Game and Fish trail markers are open for motorized vehicles and are identified by one of the following signs: 

School trust lands are open to non-vehicular public access only. You may not drive on school lands - park your vehicle and walk when hunting or retrieving game on the school trust lands. Legal access can be obtained via section lines and public roads but is not guaranteed.  In some cases, terrain and other natural obstructions may make access difficult.

Individuals and companies are not allowed to construct/improve trails or roads across School Trust Lands without obtaining the proper written permission. Political subdivisions are allowed to construct public roads within the statutory section line.  Please visit the Rights-of-Way page for additional information on roads and/or special access permission needs.

Some trust land is not easily accessible. If the section line on private property is not passable, there is no right to drive off the section line on private property. 

Please contact the Department of Trust Lands and request the Surface Management Division.  Knowing the legal description and the date observed is helpful.