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(1) Except as provided in (2) , the following state lands are closed to general recreational use by the public:

(a) all lands leased for cabinsites or homesites;

(b) all lands on which growing crops, as defined in ARM 36.25.145, are located;

(c) military leases while military activities are taking place;

(d) active commercial leases; and

(e) lands on which the department has proclaimed the threat of wildfire to be extreme pursuant to ARM 36.10.119 or for which the governor has made such a proclamation pursuant to ARM 36.10.120.

(2) (a) Any person, corporation, organization or agency of local, state, or federal government may petition to exclude a specific tract from a categorical closure imposed pursuant to (1) .

(b) The petition must be submitted in writing to the area or unit office, must be signed by the petitioner, and must contain the following information:

(i) name, mailing address, and telephone number of petitioner;

(ii) description of lands to which the petition applies by legal description, lease number, or description of the location;

(iii) the reason that the categorical closure should be terminated for that tract and supporting documentation; and

(iv) duration of period for which termination is sought.

(c) The department may summarily dismiss a petition with a brief statement of the reasons for dismissal whenever:

(i) the petition is unsupported by specific substantial factual allegations, data, or documentation; or

(ii) a petition requesting substantially the same exclusion has been denied within the preceding 365 days.

(d) To be considered during a particular calendar year, the petition must be submitted by April 1 of that year. Upon receipt of a valid petition, the department shall notify the lessee that a petition has been filed and he or she may submit an objection or have an informal hearing, or both, on the petition at the area or unit office on or before May 1. The petitioner may also request an informal hearing.

(e) If an informal hearing is requested, the department shall notify the petitioner and the lessee of the informal hearing and they may attend and participate. The informal hearing must be conducted by the area manager or his designee.

(f) The area manager or designee may conduct further investigation and shall, on or before July 1, make a written decision whether to grant the petition. The written decision must contain the reason for granting or denying the petition. Copies of the decision must be mailed to the petitioner and the lessee.

(g) The lessee or petitioner may appeal the decision to the director or his designee by filing a written notice of appeal with the area office within 15 days of receipt of the decision. The area office shall immediately forward the appeal to the departments main office in Helena. The appeal shall, in the discretion of the director, proceed by written argument, oral argument, or both at the main office of the department in Helena or other location designated by the director. The opposing party is entitled to notice of the appeal and the opportunity to respond, including the right to appear at any appellate hearing. Neither party may submit evidence or information that was not submitted at the informal hearing. The director or his designee shall issue a written decision affirming, reversing, or modifying the decision on or before September 1.

(3) Except for closure for fire danger pursuant to (1) (e) , the lessee shall post categorically closed lands at all customary access points with signs provided by the department or duplicated from signs provided by the department.

History: 77-1-209 and 77-1-804, MCA; IMP, 77-1-804, MCA; NEW, 1992 MAR p. 568, Eff. 3/27/92; AMD, 1994 MAR p. 1844, Eff. 7/8/94; TRANS, 1996 MAR p. 2384.

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