Leases (Non-Mineral)

When does the DNR lease state land?

Leases may be issued for several types of activities that may include:

  • Earth material removal or deposition of dirt, rock, sand, gravel, and clay;
  • Agriculture purposes such as hay, pasture, and cropland;
  • Cooperative farming to aid wildlife and plant management;
  • Commercial purposes such as retail, parking lots, mining facilities, and manufacturing facilities;
  • Government purposes such as local government parks, trails, monitoring stations, and dry wells; and
  • Miscellaneous purposes such as road right-of-ways, tile outlets, and storage sites.

What is the process for requesting a state lease?

Contact the DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals Regional Operations staff in your area for further assistance. They will refer you to the DNR staff responsible for managing the land. A request to lease state land is reviewed to determine if the proposed use conflicts with the resource management objectives of the land. State leases will usually have a maximum term of twenty years, with some lease types limited to two years. Agricultural leases and cooperative farming agreements will usually have a term of three years or less. Most leases are usually renewed upon the expiration of the lease term, provided that the continued use does not conflict with the current resource management objectives.

A lease fee is charged based either on a fee schedule or a percentage of the appraised value of the land.

Do I need permission to construct a road across state land administered by the DNR to access my property?

Yes, you must have either a lease or an easement issued by the state. An easement grants a long term right to use or occupy the land for a specific purpose, while a lease has a limited term but may cover the same type of activity.

The DNR is not required to issue easements upon request. For requests from individuals, state law provides that a road easement may be issued only if there is no reasonable alternative for access and the easement use will not cause significant adverse environmental or natural resource management impacts. If the state-owned land is school trust fund land, state law provides that perpetual easements can only be issued to local units of government; road easements issued to individuals on school trust fund land are limited to a maximum term of fifty years. 

May I lease state land for a lake home site or hunting cabin?

No, the DNR does not issue new leases for residential homes, seasonal cabins, or hunting purposes. In 1973, the legislature directed that no new leases be issued for these purposes. There are state hunting cabin leases still in effect. These leases are non-transferable, but they are continuing to be renewed for the current lessees.

The DNR had a large lakeshore leasing program. The legislature directed the sale or exchange of these properties, and only three leases now remain in effect. Those leases, at Horseshoe Bay in Cook County, are non-transferable but may remain in effect for the life of the lessee.

More information

Contact your Division of Lands and Minerals Regional Operations staff for more information.