Public Access & Posting

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). 

Respect the land. These lands are dedicated to producing income for the trusts through grazing and haying. 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. Additional information on allowed and prohibited activities. restricted access, and frequently asked questions are below.

ABSOLUTELY NO trucks, dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, specialty off-road vehicles, etc. are to be driven by the public on School Trust Lands without proper written permission...

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 Department of Trust Lands personnel 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.

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 use the “Contact Us” form or call NDDTL and request the Surface Management Division. 

ALLOWED activities:

  • Hiking
  • Bird watching
  • Berry picking (for personal consumption only)
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Trapping (Contact NDDTL for additional information on trapping on school trust lands.)

PROHIBITED activities:

  • Fee Hunting/Guiding 
  • Baiting and/or Feeding 
  • Dog training
  • Camping 
  • Metal detecting
  • Removing cultural artifacts 
  • Fossil collecting 

Posting & Restricted Access

Only signs furnished from the Department of Trust Lands can post School Trust Lands. Less than 1% of school trust lands are closed and/or have restricted access.

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

"Closed to Public Access"
  • School Trust Lands posted with this sign are closed to the public. Closed Sign
  • 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 located adjacent to other state or federal lands.
"Notify the Lessee Before Entering"
  • School Trust Lands posted with this sign require lessee notification prior to anyone entering the land.Notify Lessee Sign
  • 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 postcard, a message on an answering machine, 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.
"Walking Access Only"
  • Walking Access SignSchool 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. 

FAQ

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.

Can I put up a blind or tree stand on school trust land?

Ground blinds and tree stands are allowed for day use and must be removed at the end of each day.

Does NDDTL allow carcass dumping on School Trust Lands?

No, carcass dumping on School Trust Lands is not allowed.  School Trust Lands are not to be used as dump grounds for carcasses nor other types of trash.  If you come across a carcass you believe may have been dumped on School Trust Lands, please contact NDDTL.

Who can use "established trails" across School Trust Lands?

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.

Who can build trails/roads across School Trust Lands?

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. 

Does the public have a right to cross private land to access trust lands?

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. 

Who do I notify about prohibited activities occurring on School Trust Lands including illegal postings?

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