(1) The department may close specific tracts of state land pursuant to this rule after September 1, 1992, for any of
the following reasons:
(a) damage attributable to recreational use diminishes the income generating potential of the state lands;
(b) damage to surface improvements of lessee or mineral lessee;
(c) the presence of threatened, endangered,
or sensitive species or plant communities;
(d) the presence of unique or special
natural or cultural features;
(e) wildlife protection;
(f) noxious weed control;
(g) the presence of buildings, structures, or facilities;
(h) protection of public safety;
(i) prevention of significant environmental impact;
(j) disruption of calving, lambing, or shipping activities or substantial disruption of livestock use;
(k) an imminent threat, caused
by potential substantial public use, of immediate, irreparable property damage
or bodily injury on the state tract or adjacent land; or
(l) comparable public general recreational use has been made available pursuant to (13) .
(2) Closures made pursuant to (1) may be of a seasonal, temporary, or permanent nature.
(3) (a) Any person, corporation, organization, or agency of local, state, or federal government may petition to
close a specific tract of land for any reason listed in (1) .
(b) The petition must be submitted to the area or unit office in which the state land is located and
must be in writing. To be considered during a calendar year, the petition must
be submitted by April 1 of that year, 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 other description of
(iii) the reason that the land should be
closed and supporting documentation; and
(iv) period for which closure is sought.
(c) The department may summarily dismiss a
petition with a brief statement of the reason for the dismissal if:
(i) the petition is not based on a reason
for closure listed in (1) ;
(ii) the petition is not supported by
specific factual allegations, data, or documentation; or
(iii) a petition requesting essentially the
same closure has been rejected in the past 365 days unless changed conditions are alleged and
(d) The department may also initiate a
closure proceeding by preparing on or before April 1, a written statement
containing the information described in (b) (ii) , (iii) , and (iv) . The
department shall follow the procedures contained in (4) through (9) .
(4) The department shall by May 1 post
public notice of the petition or statement at the county courthouse and the
area and unit offices and by making a list of all petitions and statements
filed statewide available at the department's main office in Helena.
(5) The public notice
must give the public an opportunity to object to the petition or statement and
the objector and the petitioner an opportunity to request, on or before May 20,
a public hearing on the closure. The objection must be submitted to the office
in the area or unit in which the land is located. The objection must contain
the reasons why the petition should not be granted and supporting
documentation. The objection may not be considered if it does not. If a hearing
is requested, the department shall hold the hearing in the area of the proposed
(6) Notice of hearing
must be sent to the petitioner and the lessee. In addition, public notice must
be given on or before June 5 in the same manner as provided in (4) . The notice
must contain the name of the petitioner, location of the land, reason for
proposed closure and reasons that the hearing has been requested.
(7) The hearing must be
held in the area of the proposed closure and be an open public hearing at which
any interested party may give comments and submit information. The hearing must
be held before June 20.
(8) The department may
conduct further investigation and shall prepare a written decision to grant, grant
with modifications, or deny the petition, stating its reasons for the decision.
On or before July 1, it shall send a copy of the decision to the petitioner and
any person who filed objections pursuant to (5) .
(9) The objector or petitioner may appeal
the decision to the director or his designee by filing a written appeal with
the area office within 15 days of receipt of the decision. The department shall
give the opposing party notice of the appeal and the opportunity to respond,
including the right to appeal at any appellate hearing. 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. No party may submit evidence or information that
was not submitted at the hearing. The director shall convene the recreational
use advisory council and request it to recommend a decision on the appeal. The
director or his designee shall, after receiving the recommendation of the
council, issue a written decision affirming, reversing, or modifying the
decision. The director's decision must be made on or before September 1. If the
advisory counsel does not make a recommendation on or before August 25, the
director need not consider its recommendation in making his decision.
(10) If the petition is granted, the lessee
shall post the closed lands at all customary access points with signs provided
by the department or duplicated from signs provided by the department. For
temporary closures, the lessee shall remove closure signs at the end of the
(11) In an emergency, as defined in ARM
36.25.145, any person or entity that is qualified to file a petition pursuant
to (3) (a) may request an emergency closure by filing a written request with the
area office or by making a telephone call and filing a written request within
24 hours. When possible, the area manager or his designee shall notify and
consult with the lessee. The area manager or his designee shall grant or deny
the petition as soon as possible, but in no case in more than 5 days. If the
petition is granted, the closure must be for a specific period of time and may
be extended for additional periods. The area manager or his designee shall
terminate the closure as soon as the emergency ceases. Upon request of any
person, the director or his designee shall review any emergency closure in
effect for more than 5 days and shall approve, modify, or terminate the
closure in writing.
(12) The department may also, on its own
initiative, after consulting or attempting to consult with the lessee, close a
tract of state land in an emergency.
(13) (a) The department may, after notice pursuant to
(5) and opportunity for hearing and appeal pursuant to (5) , (7) , or (9) , enter
into an agreement with a landowner whereby a tract of state land is closed
under the procedures in (3) through (9) in exchange for the landowner's
agreement to open private land to general recreational use if the private land:
(i) is in the same general area;
(ii) is of equal or greater recreational value to
the state tract;
(iii) has equal or greater public access as the
state tract; and
(iv) is not generally available for general
recreational use upon request by the public.
(b) Before a state tract is closed pursuant to
this rule, the private landowner shall
enter into an agreement with the department whereby the landowner agrees to:
(i) allow general recreational use on the tract
under restrictions no more stringent than those contained in ARM 36.25.149 and
(ii) post signs meeting design and content specifications of the department at customary access points on the state
tract. These signs must notify the public of the closure and give directions to the private tract;
(iii) post signs on the private tract at customary
points advising the public that the tract is open
for general recreational use by the public subject to the recreational use
(iv) mark or otherwise inform the recreationist of the boundaries of the area;
(v) allow employees of the department and department of fish, wildlife and parks access to the private property;
(vi) not claim funds pursuant to ARM 36.25.158 or 36.25.159;
(vii) hold and save the department and the state
of Montana harmless from all claims for property damage or personal injury
resulting from the acts or omissions of the landowner; and
(viii) other requirements deemed necessary by the department.
(c) An agreement made pursuant to (b) must be cancelable by either party upon 60-day written notice.
(14) The department shall periodically review each closure made pursuant to this rule to determine whether the closure is
still necessary. This review must occur at least at expiration or renewal of the lease for leased tracts and at least
every 10 years for unleased tracts. After public notice, notice to the lessee, and an
opportunity for public comment and hearing, the department may terminate a
closure it determines to no longer be necessary.