Become an Outdoor Partner

Maine has a unique history of public access to private land. Over the past 200 years, landowners, residents, and visitors have forged a tradition of neighborliness and shared access that you won't find anywhere else in the nation.

Help continue this tradition: learn how to be a good land user, become an Outdoor Partner to support the landowner relations program, and learn your rights if you are a landowner.

Accessing private land: there's the law, and then there's the unwritten rule.

The law - Unlike most other states, Maine operates under an implied permission structure, meaning that if land is not posted, it is legal to use the land.

The unwritten rule - Always ask permission. Hunting, fishing, or otherwise using private land without the owner's permission is a careless move that puts everyone's future access at risk.

When venturing into the Maine woods, follow the unwritten rule.

7 Ways to be a good land user

Landowners who permit you to use their land for outdoor recreational activities are not only doing you a favor, they are placing their trust in you. Here are seven ways you can prove their trust is not misplaced:

  • Always ask for permission, whether or not there are signs on the property requesting that you do so, and regardless of who owns it (a private individual or a business). Click here for tips on how to find out who to contact.
  • Learn what matters most to the landowner and abide by all special requests they make, including where you can or cannot drive or park a vehicle, and which specific activities are allowed. Some landowners may require permits for certain activities. If so, respect that request. Look at any such requests from the landowner's point of view, and act with their best interests in mind whenever you use the land.
  • Provide detailed information. If requested, give the landowner your name, address, phone number and vehicle description, and consider using pre-printed Landowner/Land user Courtesy Cards (PDF). Good, thorough communication is a great way to build mutual respect.
  • Know your boundaries. Learn the geographic property boundaries of the land you have permission to use and stay within them. There is no excuse for trespassing — it's a crime enforceable by all state, county, and municipal law enforcement officers, and if convicted, you may lose any license issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
  • Keep it clean. Remember that you are a guest. Always leave the land as you found it, if not better. If you see trash that someone else left, pick it up.
  • Keep it legal. Always obey the law, be safe and ethical, and report any land abuse that you witness. Land abuse is a very serious problem in Maine, and each year, access to private property is lost because of it. Put yourself in the landowner's shoes and help ensure that violators are prosecuted. If you see a violation occurring, contact Operation Game Thief at 1(800) ALERT-US [1(800) 253-7887].
  • Say thank you. Thank the landowner for the opportunity to use their property for recreation. They'll love hearing that you enjoyed it, and that you recognize and appreciate their generosity.

Learn more about being a good land user