36.25.152 GENERAL RECREATIONAL USE OF STATE LANDS: PROCEDURE FOR SITE SPECIFIC CLOSURES AFTER SEPTEMBER 1, 1992
(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 the location;
(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 documented.
(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 closure.
(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 closure period.
(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:
(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 access
points advising the public that the tract is open for general recreational use by the public subject to the recreational use license requirement;
(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;
(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.