Through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, NRCS is investing $20 million in nine states and one Tribal Nation to help governments advance recreational opportunities through wildlife habitat and public access improvements to private lands while spurring economic opportunities. Awardees of this competitive grant program include:
VPA-HIP Grantees, August 2014
Recreation Opportunities Provided
Arizona Game and Fish Department
The Arizona agency plans to expand its current public access program with this grant by working with more landowners through incentive payments, hiring additional staff and boosting outreach efforts.
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation
The tribal government will use the grant to finish its wildlife viewing center the tribe started with a previous grant, opening access to 8,500 acres of private land and 12,500 acres of tribal lands for hiking, bird watching and photography.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
In a state where 93 percent of land is privately owned, the Georgia agency plans will use the grant to expand its successful Wildlife Management Area program, which makes private lands available to those interested in hunting, fishing and other recreation.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois plans to expand its current public access program, which has already provided public access to hundreds of areas for turkey hunting, hiking and rafting.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
The Iowa agency will provide conservation assistance to landowners, enhancing 22,000 acres of wildlife habitat and opening that area to the public for hunting.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
The Michigan agency will use the grant to grow the state's existing hunting access program by adding dozens of farms to its system, boosting acreage by about 8,000 acres.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
In a state with the highest per capita hunters and anglers, the Montana agency plans to work with 150 private landowners to open access up to 48,000 acres for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities.
Pennsylvania Game Commission
The Pennsylvania agency will use the grant to grow its existing public access program with a goal of making land available for recreation while also helping at-risk species like the golden wing warbler and bog turtle.
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks
The South Dakota agency aims to increase public access to private lands in the southeastern portion of the state, where little land to lease is available, for hunting and recreation as well as improve wildlife habitat.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
The Texas agency is working to increase land available and participation in hunting as well as wildlife populations by using the grant funds and other matching dollars to hire biologists, to work with additional private landowners to make lands available and increase public awareness of available lands.