Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator
On October 23, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game released a statement announcing finalized agreements with twelve private timberland companies, securing public access to 336,630 acres for hunting, angling, trapping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and recreational travel in northern Idaho.
This most recent agreement is in addition to an agreement with PotlatchDeltic, which provided public access to 567,002 acres of timberland. Combined, these public-private partnerships have resulted in 903,632 acres of private timberland opened to public access within the last year in the state.
“This is a great partnership that will provide an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities for the sporting public,” said Private Lands and Farm Bill Program Coordinator, Sal Palazzolo, from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “The companies have been great to work with throughout this process. They understand how critical they are too many of these rural areas, both economically and lifestyle wise.”
Idaho Fish and Game secured the public access agreements through the “large tracts” land lease program, which targets multi-year access to parcels of 50,000 acres or larger and pays $1 per acre annually for access. Funding for the “large tracts” land lease program “comes from Fish and Game’s access/depredation fee that requires a $5 surcharge for residents and a $10 surcharge for nonresidents when they buy their first annual license of the year.” Started in 2017, the surcharge has allowed Idaho Department of Fish and Game to dramatically increase the acreage in its access programs.
Under the “large tracts” land lease program, cooperating “lands would be open to non-motorized public access for legal hunting, fishing, and trapping activities permitted by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.” Additionally, participating landowners agreed to work cooperatively with each other and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game experts to designate lands that would be available for responsible motorized access and the conditions for that access. Furthermore, overnight camping would be permitted only in designated areas. Members of the public are reminded to check the specific rules for the land they choose to access as they vary between properties.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?