Tax credit program deadline, March 15

Ken McDonald

Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands Program.

Through this program, landowners who agree to allow access for all general recreational use, including hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, bird-watching and other uses compatible with the use of public lands, for a majority of the year (at least six months and one day), are entitled to receive a $750 annual tax credit per contract. Landowners may have a maximum of four contracts per year, or up to $3,000 in tax credits.

Public recreational access across private land to reach a parcel of otherwise inaccessible state (DNRC) or federal Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service land can be limited to foot traffic only.

The Unlocking Public Lands program is a product of the 2015 Legislature, which expanded a program called Unlocking State Land passed by the previous legislature. While Montana contains nearly 31 million acres of BLM, USFS, and state land, much of this land requires landowner permission to cross private land to reach the adjoining state or federal land.

“Offering a tax credit in exchange for allowing public access across private land to reach public land is a unique and innovative way to increase public access,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator. “We hope these new opportunities and incentives may appeal to landowners throughout the state.”

More information about the program, including enrollment criteria and the application form, can be found at



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