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News Release

USDA Awards Funds in Wisconsin to Encourage Public Access to Private Lands

Madison, Wis., March 13, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it is awarding almost $49 million to help state and tribal governments encourage private landowners to allow public access to their land for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will receive $1,905,515 this year through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). 

“Through the 2018 Farm Bill, VPA-HIP provides funding for public access opportunities in addition to another source of funding for conservation implemented on those private lands that enroll in the program with the DNR.” said Greg Kidd, Wisconsin Assistant State Conservationist for Easements and VPA-HIP NRCS Coordinator.  

The VPA-HIP was awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to expand on its Voluntary Public Access & Habitat Incentive Program that provides the public with opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and observing wildlife on private lands. Wisconsin will focus implementation on wetland and grassland conservation opportunity areas in 52 south Wisconsin counties.

Additionally, DNR will expand eligibility for the program to landowners in 19 of the 20 remaining counties that previously could not participate. VPA-HIP funds will also be used for lease payments through the Department’s Turkey Hunting Access Program (THAP).  VPA-HIP is open to state and tribal governments to establish or expand public access programs. Projects last up to three years, and the maximum amount for a single award is $3 million.

A majority of the funded projects expand public access programs, increasing the number of private land acres available to the public for recreation. Awardees may use up to 25 percent of their award funding to create, restore or enhance wildlife habitat on private lands opened for public access.

Read more about the VPA-HIP program and this year’s recipients.

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