RAPID/Geothermal/Land Access/Montana

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Geothermal Land Access in Montana

Regulatory Information Overviews

Search for other summaries about Geothermal regulations and permitting.


At a Glance

Jurisdiction: Montana

Leasing Agency: Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation

Competitive Land Leasing: Yes, competitive bid process.

Noncompetitive Land Leasing: None

Royalty Rate Competitive Land Lease:

Royalty Rate Nonompetitive Land Lease:

Royalty Rate Calculation Basis:

Royalty Distribution:

Contacts/Agencies: Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation

State Land Access Process

In order to extract geothermal resources in Montana, developers must obtain a lease and, any required easements to access state lands, including any necessary permits to encroach on existing state highway Rights-of-Way (ROWs). If the project only requires a short-term use of school trust lands, the developer may apply for a Land Use License. In addition to obtaining a geothermal lease, the developer must secure a water right before diverting/appropriating geothermal resources from the Montana Water Rights Bureau, unless the exception in MCA 85-2-306(3) applies.


The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (MDNRC) has administrative authority for issuing geothermal leases on state land. The developer must submit an application and the MDNRC will decide whether to post public notice of the sale. Rule 36.25.404(2). If the MDNRC opens the sale to the public, the developer and interested parties may submit sealed bids. The MDNRC will award a geothermal lease to the highest qualified bidder.

Easement / Land Use License

If the project requires the use of or access across state lands not included within a geothermal lease, the developer must submit an application for a right-of-way or easement to the Montana State Land Board (MSLB), within the MDNRC. Rule 36.2.1001. If the project requires a casual use of state lands prior to the issuance of a full lease, developers may submit a Land Use License Application to the MDNRC. The MDNRC will only award a Land Use License if the use is compatible with the MDNRC’s multiple use objective. Rule 36.25.136

State Highway Encroachment

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) issues permits for encroachments on state highway ROWs. Encroachments include the building of new approaches, the installation, maintenance, and operation of utility facilities such as pipe lines, pole lines, buried cable, and conduits, and other activities that may affect the right of way. Depending on the type of encroachment, developers may submit an Encroachment Permit Application or an Application for Right of Way Easement for Utilities Through State Lands.

Local Land Access Process

not available

Policies & Regulations


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