Skroch said the issue has been a hot one during the session, and she worries that landowners across the state are at a “flashpoint.” She fears that without some fundamental property protections, landowners will “lock the land up so tight, it will be a slamming of the door.”

Carrie Stadheim

Tri-state Livestock News

ND House passes protection from public, leaves private land open to hunters

The North Dakota House of Representatives has taken a step toward improving property right protections. A bill that would have helped move the state toward adopting fundamental property rights in regard to trespass was split into two parts. Division one, the segment that would change the law to require the public to ask permission before entering private property (for all purposes except for hunting) was approved by the House of Representatives. The second part would have created an allowance for electronic posting, established an advisory group on access issues and required the group to make a majority recommendation by 2020 or land would be considered closed for hunting purposes. This segment failed. In the end, the remaining portions of the bill passed.

The Senate passed a different version earlier this session – a bill that included the electronic “posting” option, that allowed landowners to select “open to hunting,” “closed to hunting,” or “open with permission.” The bill now goes to conference committee where committee members from both the House and Senate will negotiate, and will need to approve some version of the bill in order to keep the issue alive. If a compromise is found, both chambers must approve it, in order for the bill to become law.

Current North Dakota law allows the public to access on private property unless the landowner has posted signs at various points around their property indicating “no trespassing” or “no hunting.”

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson calls the current statute “archaic” and says this is the closest the state has ever come to updating the law.

“It would have been nice to have had the whole shebang, but we appreciate the vote in the House that allows us to continue working on this issue.”

Lidgerwood rancher and landowner Kathy Skroch, representing District 26 said that her constituents had hoped to see the bill passed in its entirety.

“SB 2315 was going to be a good answer to protecting private landowners’ rights and as it split, it very definitely weakened the bill,” she said.

Skroch said the issue has been a hot one during the session, and she worries that landowners across the state are at a “flashpoint.” She fears that without some fundamental property protections, landowners will “lock the land up so tight, it will be a slamming of the door.”

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