Landowners can provide public access to property
The Wisconsin DNR has received $1.9 million dollars, for continued funding of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), and Turkey Hunting Access Program (THAP). Funds were authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, and are administered and provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
For those interested in making their land available for public access, the VPA-HIP program provides opportunities to increase public access for quality hunting, fishing and wildlife observation on private lands.
Financial incentives in the form of annual leases are available for private landowners who open their property to public hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife observation. Eligible land types include grassland, wetland, forestland and in some cases, agriculture land.
Land enrolled in conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), Managed Forest Law (MFL) in closed status and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRP/WRE), are eligible for enrollment.
Annual lease payment rates are based on the land type and are made in the form of an upfront lump sum payment at the beginning of the contract. Priority will be given to parcels greater than 40 acres in size, with at least 25 percent usable cover and near properties currently open to public hunting and/or fishing.
Under state statutes, landowners are generally immune from liability for injuries received by individuals recreating on their lands. The department agrees to provide compensation for damages to property or crops that occur as a result of opening the land to public access.
Interested landowners should call Cody Strong, VPA-HIP coordinator, at 608-800-1343, for more information, or visit dnr.wisconsin.gov.