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October 5, 2010

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been revised to correct an editing error that implied the entire hunting acreage in Wisconsin had been quadrupled. This grant will allow the Department of Natural Resources to quadruple the amount of leased hunting acreage.

MADISON - Wisconsin has been awarded a federal grant for $936,040 for incentives to encourage owners of private lands to open those lands to public access for hunting and fishing through purchase of access leases.

The Department of Natural Resources currently leases 16,000 acres as public hunting grounds from private landowners.

"This grant enables us to quadruple that hunting acreage over the next three years. We'll also be able to pay more competitive rates for new lease lands and for any existing leases when they come up for renewal in 2011," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank.

The leased public hunting grounds (PHG) are in addition to approximately 1.6 million acres of state lands open to all forms of outdoor recreation. County forests and federal forests add another add another 3.8 million acres to the total.

Frank noted that in addition to the increased leasing incentives, the state will work to lengthen the lease agreements from the current one year to three-year contracts. Expected increases in lease fees are from the current $1 to $3 per acre to $3 per acre for cropland, $10 per acre for upland and wetland and $15 per acre for woodland.

The federal dollars were appropriated in the most recent federal Farm Bill as the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). The Farm Bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the US Department of Agriculture.

"Competition for these federal dollars was intense but friendly among the 26 states that applied," said Frank. "All the interested states worked cooperatively with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the US Department of Agriculture on a common application process that compared the merits of each state's proposal.

"I'd like to thank US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's efforts in recognizing the need and working to secure these grants," added Frank. "Wisconsin's conservation community also deserves hearty thanks for their supporting efforts in winning these dollars. On short notice they met with us to discuss what they'd like to see in our application and just as quickly, submitted letters of public support for our proposal. It was a great team effort and it paid off."

The following conservation organizations and agencies provided input and support to Wisconsin's successful grant application: Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Ruffed Grouse Society, Trout Unlimited, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Wings Over Wisconsin, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Missy Sparrow - (920) 892-8756 ext. 3041

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 05, 2010

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