The new PLOTS Guide is out in print and on-screen and this year's version features a nice bump in acres.

PLOTS stands for Private Land Open to Sportsmen, which is a North Dakota Game and Fish Department program that provides incentives to cooperating private landowners who open tracts of their land to walking hunter access.

It's a program that got its start more than 20 years ago, and for many years at about this time, Game and Fish private land section leader Kevin Kading has provided an update on PLOTS in the August/September issue of North Dakota Outdoors magazine. Here's some excerpts from Kading's update:

Acreage increase

"This year we are going to have about 791,000 acres in the program available for the fall hunting season. In comparison, last year we were at about 762,000 so we have a nice increase this year. The 30,000 acres is a big lift, and of that of that 30,000 acres, much is new habitat. Within those acres there is 5,000 acres of new habitat being planted, new grass. We also have some cover crops and some food plots going in on some of these areas, too. So some nice enhancements to some of the PLOTS tracts that already exist in the program."

Landowner interest

"We know that landowners have things that are going on out there and we try to work with them. We have got great landowners who we work with. They are interested in this program. It is strictly voluntary; they do not have to put their land in the program, so they are coming to us. And their interest in doing this type of work just tells a lot right there ... they want to allow public access, they want to provide some habitat for wildlife, and so, those are the kind of people who we like to work with. And those are the people that are in our program. And overall, for the program being around as long as it has, there is still a lot of interest and landowners are still very interested in the program."

The online version of the PLOTS guide is now available online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Because the paper guide is printed in mid-August, some PLOTS tracts highlighted in the guide may have been removed from the program since the time of printing. There will also be some PLOTS tracts where the habitat and condition of the tract will have changed significantly.

Conversely, Game and Fish may have added new tracts to the program after the guide went to press.

To minimize possible confusion, Game and Fish updates the online PLOTS map sheets weekly on its website.

The PLOTS guide features maps highlighting these walk-in areas, identified in the field by inverted triangular yellow signs, as well as other public lands.

The guides are not available to mail, so hunters will have to pick one up at a local vendor or Game and Fish office or print individual maps from the website.

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