The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) is a competitive grants program that helps state and tribal governments increase public access to private lands for wildlife-dependent recreation, such as hunting, fishing, nature watching or hiking.
State and tribal governments may submit proposals for VPA-HIP block grants from NRCS. These governments provide the funds to participating private landowners to initiate new or expand existing public access programs that enhance public access to areas previously unavailable for wildlife-dependent recreation.
Nothing in VPA-HIP preempts liability laws that may apply to activities on any property related to grants made in this program.
Only states and tribal governments are eligible to apply for VPA-HIP grants. Private forest, farm or ranch lands are eligible for assistance under these state grants.
Allowable grant amounts are reduced by 25 percent if the opening dates for migratory bird hunting are not consistent for residents and non-residents. This requirement does not apply to tribal governments.
How to Apply
NRCS National Headquarters, on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation, will publish an announcement for program funding (AFP) to the Federal Government’s grants portal— www.grants.gov. The AFP (please hyperlink to the new announcement) will provide objectives for projects, eligibility criteria and the application forms and instructions needed to apply for a VPA-HIP competitive grant.
Funding priority will be given to public access programs that address these objectives:
- Maximize private lands acreage available to the public
- Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat
- Provide incentives to strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts
- Supplement funding and services from other federal or state agencies, tribal governments or private resources provided in the form of cash or in-kind services
- Provide information to the public about the location of public access land
- Make special efforts to reach historically underserved or socially disadvantaged landowners and operators
- Follow NRCS conservation practice standards for VPA-HIP habitat improvement activities
VPA-HIP Fact Sheet (PDF,1.41 MB)
To learn how to get started with NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted
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