Rights-of-Way and Special Access


Rights-of-Way and special access requests can be submitted by acquisition professionals, federal or state agencies, political subdivisions, survey/engineering companies, universities, or other groups and individuals for temporary or permanent rights.  Early first contact, application completion, and requested document submission are essential for timely processing.  Access requests typically move through the process more quickly as less items are generally required. It is imperative that all proposed projects are thoroughly evaluated and completed in such a manner that benefits the Trusts while preserving the land for future revenue generation.  Please review the FAQ section below and email landrow@nd.gov if you further questions.

Application submission does not authorize work on Trust Lands. Survey work on Trust Lands requires a NDDTL issued permit (see survey guideline document below) and construction is only authorized when a company receives a Commissioner signed NDDTL issued conveyance document.  Failure to obtain a NDDTL issued document signed by the Commissioner prior to construction commencement or violating the conveyance terms may result in penalties and/or termination. 

Oil & Gas Surface Damage Agreements (“on-lease activity”)

Activities completed under state mineral leases such as an oil well site, etc.


Activities such as pipelines, utility distribution or transmission lines, public roads, off-lease well sites, saltwater disposals, tower sites, wind turbines, etc.


Activities such as temporary surface layflat lines, environmental or route surveys, research projects, temporary back slope construction, access roads, aggregate prospecting, seismic/geophysical activities, etc.

Special Access Permission Letters

Activities such as organized events (i.e., bird watching group) and/or activities with no ground disturbance, etc.



Please review the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below for help answering initial inquiries on the ROW application and approval process. If you need further assistance beyond these FAQs, please email landrow@nd.gov.

Is there an application fee for ROW requests? If so, can it be paid when completing the online application with a credit card?
  • There is no application fee for on-lease activities.
  • There is an application fee for off-lease activities (easements, permits, etc.). The application fee is $250 per application.
  • Currently, application fees are unable to be collected during the application process. NDDTL is pursuing the possibility of this function in the future. Credit card payments are anticipated to be a payment option in the fall of 2020.
What is required to complete survey work on Trust Lands?
  • An online application from the company (Grantee) (or the survey/engineering company on behalf of the company) for each proposed project and,
  • An active “Planning and Preconstruction Survey” permit must be held by the survey/engineering company completing survey work.
  • Currently the Planning and Preconstruction Survey permit has a permit consideration of $500 and is valid for five years. There is a sample Planning and Preconstruction Permit in the sample documents section.
  • NDDTL must approve the proposed route prior to survey work.  Route approval may require an onsite meeting with NDDTL to determine if an acceptable route is present.  This is necessary to decrease the likelihood of having to re-survey the area and decrease review time for NDDTL.
What is considered when NDDTL reviews a proposed ROW?
  • NDDTL reviews the financial benefit to the trusts
  • Availability of alternate encumbrance site or route
  • The least environmentally damaging site or route regardless of property ownership
  • Physical stability of the landscape
  • Other potential future uses for the trust lands, including urban development;
  • Potential mineral and other material development including oil, gas, coal, construction aggregate, sodium sulfate, chemical substances, metallic ore, or uranium ore
  • Feasibility for reclamation; Maintenance of existing wetlands and water flows
  • Any cultural, historical, archeological, and paleontological resources
  • Habitat for federally listed threatened and endangered species
  • Location of the proposed route or site in relation to section lines, quarter section lines and corridors
  • Potential liability to the trusts
  • Applicant’s past encumbrances on trust lands
  • Applicant’s financial stability
  • Any other information relevant to the application which would assist in the determination
Who receives Easement and Surface Damage Payments for projects on Trust Lands?

Consideration payments should be settled with NDDTL after most or all the adjacent private landowners have settled as consideration offers are based on rates paid to private landowners in the area. This is because the State does not want to "set the market" but must also receive a fair payment for the trusts.

Payments must be sent directly to NDDTL. NDDTL will determine the surface lessee's share of the damages, if any, and make the payment to our tenant.

Grantee must pay or repair all damages that may occur to surface tenant's crops, fences, buildings or other improvements caused by construction or maintenance of the project.

Does NDDTL sign Company issued forms?

NDDTL does not sign Company issued documents or forms; only documents issued by NDDTL will be signed by the Commissioner. NDDTL may be able to issue an acknowledgment letter to satisfy bill receipts or other agency requests, depending on the nature of the request.

Do political subdivisions need a road easement for section line roads? What about other access roads across School Trust Lands?

If a political subdivision managed section line road is contained within the statutory width (33 feet on either side of the section line), no easement is required. If the road is outside of the statutory width, the additional acreage must be obtained via easement or a permit for temporary back slope area must be issued.

Access road permits are required to access well pads, private residences, section line roads that a political subdivision does not manage, etc. An individual or company cannot simply build a road across School Trust Lands. Please contact NDDTL for specific circumstances and needs prior to project commencement to obtain the proper permissions.

Does NDDTL have required Construction and Reclamation specifications?

Yes, construction cannot begin until the Commissioner has signed the appropriate documents. The terms and conditions for construction are defined the approved and signed document.

NDDTL requires a specific native seed mix to be planted for reclamation: Seed Mix

NDDTL has a reclamation reporting program: Reclamation Reporting

NDDTL’s reclamation contact: cjbarth@nd.gov