N.D. Stockmen’s president comments on trespass bill
February 22, 2017
"Private property rights were dealt a devastating blow today when the Senate voted 17 to 28 to kill SB 2225. The bill would have established a pilot program in up to five counties that created an electronic database where landowners could register their land as open or closed for hunting and removed the requirement that land must be posted in those counties to keep others off or to know who was accessing it. While the bill was a far slower and milder approach than the agriculture community's goal to remove the posting requirement completely, the amended bill represented a compromise – a step in the right direction in asserting the fundamental private property rights of landowners and a way to help ensure that access would not be impaired for sportsmen. It embraced technology and would have been a helpful tool for hunters and a building block in sportsman-landowner relationships. Today's vote was a missed opportunity, and disappointing at best.
The right to own and enjoy the use of private property is the cornerstone to a free society. North Dakota's antiquated posting law infringes on private property rights – requiring those who own and care for the land and pay the taxes on it to post it in order to have the same property rights protection as those who own other classes of property. It places the time and labor burden on landowners and has been a hindrance in prosecuting legitimate trespass cases, which have ran increasingly rampant the last several months, and was evidenced as recently as last Friday in Morton County.
SB 2225 was a bill about private property rights. It was a way to recognize those inherent rights and support North Dakota's hunting heritage – which is important to the agricultural community – at the same time. It was about helping develop relationships. Interactions between landowners and those seeking access are relationship-building opportunities and often lead to increased, not decreased, access. SB 2225 would have helped increase hunter safety and improve hunter success, as many landowners use these conversations to provide helpful advice about the places to go and the places to avoid.
Neighboring states have similar laws already on the books, but without the proactive database that SB 2225 aimed to create. North Dakota could have been the model.
This issue has been before the legislature in several forms several different times. SB 2225 provided a real solution using today's technology. Many in the ag community are frustrated to the point that the unresponsiveness to property rights may trigger more land being posted."
–ND Stockmen's Association