RAPID/Geothermal/Montana/Land Access

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Montana Geothermal Land & Geothermal Resource Access(3-MT)

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.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Montana Federal

Leasing Agency: Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation Bureau of Land Management
Competitive Land Leasing: Yes, competitive bid process.
Noncompetitive Land Leasing: None