North Dakotans establish lock out group
A new group in North Dakota is focused on protecting the rights of property owners.
The North Dakota Lock Out held its first meeting May 10 in Mandan, North Dakota.
Founding member Clayton Pederson, who ranches in Sioux County, North Dakota, said the group’s mission is “supporting our agricultural and hunting heritage by protecting our inherent private property rights.”
The organization hopes to hold meaningful discussions with all interested parties over the next two years, (North Dakota only holds legislative sessions every other year) in order to develop legislation that could work for everyone. The amending and ultimate emasculation of SB 2315, a bill that would have provided North Dakota landowners the most basic of property rights – the expectation of privacy – was the impetus for the lock out group. In North Dakota, anyone can access private property unless the property is strategically marked with proper “no hunting” or “no trespassing,” signs.
A concerted effort was made, including support from a coalition of all of North Dakota’s ag groups, to pass SB 2315, which would have, in at least some of its forms, provided more rights to landowners. Similar efforts have failed at least seven times in past years, said North Dakota Stockmen’s Executive Director Julie Ellingson.
Pederson, an avid hunter and former director for the National Rifle Association, said that the North Dakota Stockmen did meet with a variety of groups and individuals throughout 2017 and 2018 in an effort to determine what kind of legislation would be palatable to hunters as well as landowners, but sometimes the hunting groups weren’t interested in any kind of change.
“There has to be some kind of respect, they need to realize that if you own property, it’s yours to do with what you want.” He hopes, in the next two years to find common ground with hunters who are willing to come to the table and discuss a rational solution.
Senator Eberle (R-Lehr), Sen. Schaible (R-Mott), Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), Rep Simons (R-Dickinson) are legislators he hopes to involve in the conversation, as well as any others who are interested.
The lock out group has ordered metal and vinyl signs that individuals can purchase. Pederson explained that they will share the sign design with anyone who might want to buy signs from a local print shop. “We’re not trying to make money. This is a grassroots group.”
The signs announce “no trespassing, no hunting, access restricted.”
The organization isn’t instructing its members to totally refuse access, instead, the signs are a way to call attention to an important matter, he said.
“By posting it, the individual landowner can decide what kind of access he or she wants to allow. We’re basically a private property rights organization, so for us to dictate to landowners that they have to ‘lock up’ their land isn’t right,” Pederson said.
“I think a lot more acres will get posted than what we have seen in the past, but they (hunters) are going to have to talk to each landowner to see if they are allowing any hunting, limited hunting, or no hunting at all.”
On his ranch, the land will be open to hunting by family and a few close friends. “Everyone else, I’ll be telling ‘no,’ and why,” he said.
The group plans to develop some clear and concise points to share with those who might ask for access or ask about the signs.
Pederson said currently there are no membership dues for the organization, so donations have been supporting the group, but he expects eventually membership dues will become a necessity.
The organization will not be a one-issue group, but will continue to address property rights issues as needed, Pederson said. “We would like to stay active as far as fighting for private property rights,” he said.
North Dakota Lock Out will meet again in June. For more information, contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org .