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The Farm Bill's Public Access Program - VPA-HIP

The Farm Bill's Public Access Program - VPA-HIP

by Daryl Fisher, Biologist
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism
Garden City, Kansas

The 2008 Farm Bill has a little known and, until recently, unused provision in it to pay for public access to some private lands. Unlike other Farm Bill programs, this Voluntary Public Access (VPA) and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) is operated by state fish and wildlife agencies with money awarded by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) received a VPA-HIP grant and is focusing its emphasis with VPA-HIP on cropland acres. This is to complement the existing Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) Program which consists in large part of whole field Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. KDWPT is using VPA-HIP to encourage signups in the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP). VPA-HIP will match the Farm Service Agency signup incentive of $100 per acre, as well as pay a fee for public hunting access for the duration of the CCRP contract. The entire payment for the VPA-HIP contract will be paid up front rather than as a yearly payment as happens with the established WIHA program.

A VPA-HIP hunting area may provide even better hunting opportunities than many large CRP tracts that exist in WIHA. A mixture of cropland and native grass plantings as found with CCRP next to croplands, provides diversity that is very beneficial to pheasants and quail year-round. Landowners that appreciate having these birds on their property and hunters that enjoy their pursuit each season also benefit.

If you are interested in the CCRP and receiving an added incentive to sign up, please contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office. NRCS staff can answer questions about CCRP in general, and contact your local KDWPT biologist for the details about how the VPA-HIP works in your area.

The NRCS office is located at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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The Farm Bill's Public Access Program (DOC; 56 KB)