Elk NetworkConservation License Required to Access Most Montana State Lands

General | June 30, 2023

Below is a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Working with the 68th Legislature, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation simplified licensing requirements on state lands as part of Governor Gianforte’s Red Tape Relief Task Force.

The two agencies consolidated the Conservation License and State Lands Recreational Use License into one annual Conservation License, supporting the maintenance of places like fishing access sites (FAS) and wildlife management areas (WMA). On Montana school trust lands, Conservation License sales will help fund Montana schools and other state institutions.

Effective July 1, Montanans who access state lands will be required to have a Conservation License. Hunters, trappers, and anglers in Montana who have purchased licenses and tags this year already possess this license.

“Fishing access sites and wildlife management areas represent some of the most amazing outdoor recreation opportunities we have in Montana. Access to all these sites for a small annual fee is a tremendous bargain,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Dustin Temple. “By requiring an annual Conservation License for everyone 12 and older who uses these sites, we’re ensuring the cost of maintenance is shared by all users, not just hunters, anglers, and trappers.”

Increased use on FAS and WMA sites has led to increased maintenance costs. Much of the increased use is from people who come to these sites to enjoy outdoor recreation, not necessarily to hunt, fish, or trap. With the requirement of a Conservation License for everyone, that cost of maintenance is shared by all users.

On Montana state trust lands, the Conservation License replaces the required State Lands Recreational Use License for general recreation on legally accessible state trust lands that are not otherwise closed or restricted. Recreational use fees are part of the revenue generated from state trust lands and help fund Montana schools and other state institutions.

“Conservation License purchases help fund Montana schools,” said Montana DNRC Director Amanda Kaster. “State trust lands are working lands and now it is even easier for residents and visitors alike who recreate on state-managed lands to do their part to support the education of Montana’s students.”

Hunters, anglers, and trappers are already required to purchase a Conservation License along with their hunting and fishing licenses from FWP. However, for those people who enjoy recreation on any of Montana’s more than 330 FAS and 77 WMA sites, wildlife habitat protection areas, or legally accessible state trust lands, and don’t already buy a hunting or fishing license, they will need to have a Conservation License to access those lands. These licenses, which cost $8 for residents, $4 for resident youth ages 12 to 17 and seniors 62 and older, and $10 for nonresidents can be purchased at any FWP office or online at ols.fwp.mt.gov/.

A Special Recreation Use License is still required for trapping, commercial or concentrated recreation, outfitting, or special events on state trust land. Information on access and licensing for special recreation on state trust land is available at dnrc.mt.gov/recreation.

Montana State Parks do not require a Conservation License.

(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)