October 6, 2016

Midwest: Private Land Access Programs Provide Opportunity for Sportsmen

With fall hunting seasons finally under way, many Midwestern sportsmen and women looking for places to hunt can utilize state programs that provide public access to private lands. These programs help supplement existing public hunting grounds for local hunters, while also allowing private landowners to maintain control over their property.

Benefits for landowners enrolled in these programs vary from state to state, but can include payments for land usage, tax incentives, reduced fees for hunting or fishing licenses, and liability protection. Private land access programs can be instrumental in hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation, and can positively impact the states’ contributions to the American System of Conservation Funding.

Since the late 1980s, fish and wildlife agencies in many Midwestern states have implemented programs designed to allow hunters and anglers access to private lands. South Dakota’s Walk-In Area Program is an example of a successful access program that has enrolled more than 1.2 million acres for hunting in the state since the program’s inception in 1988. Another good example is Wisconsin’s Managed Forest Law program that allows hunters and anglers access to privately-held forest land. The following states in the Midwest all have programs that provide sportsmen and women access to private lands:

North Dakota

Sportsmen and women who decide to stop hunting and angling often list a lack of access as their primary reason for doing so. As private land access programs continue to expand, Midwestern hunters and anglers can look forward to increased opportunities to pursue the hobby that they enjoy.

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?

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