Understanding Access on Arizona's State Trust Lands

Bella, my German Wirehair Pointer, and I quartered through the thick grass cover, prickly pear cactus, yucca, and a few pinon and juniper in search of Arizona’s renowned Gambel's quail. We were hunting a small portion of the over 9 million acres of state trust land in Arizona.

Did you know you can use these lands even though they are listed as not “Public Lands” and posted as “No Trespassing”? Some of these lands are open to hunting and fishing if you have a valid hunting and fishing license and are actively pursuing game or fish. You are not allowed to “discharge a firearm on state trust land, except pursuant to lawful and licensed hunting” (State Land Department). In other words, no target shooting! 

If you are camping or doing other forms of recreating you are required to purchase a permit. Importantly, some of the state trust lands are not open for recreation, hunting, or fishing. The cost of a permit is minimal and is easy to purchase online. The website also has links to maps of state trust land. Be sure to read the Arizona State Land Department website prior to using the state trust land. 

State trust lands were allotted to Arizona by Congress when Arizona became a territory in 1863 and again when we became a state in 1910. State trust lands are used to support basic public services, such as education. The proceeds from the sale of state trust lands goes into an endowment that helps to fund K-12 education in the state as well as a few other public services.

Many states, such as Colorado, restrict access to their state trust land. Colorado recently opened up additional acres to hunting and fishing; but the vast majority of Colorado state trust land is closed. In Arizona, we are blessed with fairly liberal access to many of these beautiful lands.

On this outing, Bella and I didn’t find any quail on this section of Arizona state trust land; it was a new area for us and I always like trying new areas. We did, however, find several coveys in the adjacent National Forest so we didn’t go home empty handed.

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