June 1, 2011
MADISON - The public has until July 1, 2011 to submit comments on a federally required environmental assessment that will clear the way for spending federal grant dollars to lease public access rights for hunting, fishing, trapping and other wildlife-dependent recreation from willing private landowners.
The federal dollars were received in the fall of 2010 through a new program called the Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Improvement Program. This new program will complement the current Public Hunting Ground lease program in southern and southeastern Wisconsin. More recently, Wisconsin learned that it will likely receive a second round of funding toward this effort.
The new program will encompass a total of four focus areas.
Three of these focus areas will be in the northeast, south-central, and west-central portions of the state. A fourth new focus area in southwestern Wisconsin, will concentrate on stream and fishing access.
All of the proposed focus areas will overlap with Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program eligible counties. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has chosen to focus the program near population centers in Wisconsin to maximize recreational use.
"The establishment of focus areas will allow for more effective implementation and will alleviate pressure on any single, isolated property," said Missy Sparrow, DNR wildlife biologists and project coordinator. "Creating blocks of properties or access sites will ensure a concentration of habitats and fish and wildlife populations suitable for recreational opportunities."
The federal dollars were appropriated in the most recent federal Farm Bill, which is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a condition of receiving the funds, the agency is required to complete an environmental assessment in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act requirements.
A copy of the document can be found on the [www.fsa.usda.gov] website (exit DNR) . Comments will be accepted until July 1, 2011. To request a hard copy of Wisconsin's Voluntary Public Access - Habitat Improvement Program environmental assessment or to submit comments, contact Melissa Sparrow via e-mail at Melissa.Sparrow@wisconsin.gov or via U.S. mail to 1155 Pilgrim Road, Plymouth, WI 53073.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Missy Sparrow - (920) 892-8756 ext. 3041