Contact(s): Anne Reis, Voluntary Public Access & Habitat Incentive Program coordinator, 608-279-6483
October 17, 2017
MADISON - The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides financial incentives to private landowners interested in making their land available for public access. Collectively, 176 landowners currently provide 31,000 additional acres for wildlife-related recreation in 52 eligible counties across the state.
Financial incentives in the form of annual leases are available for private landowners who open their property to public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation. Eligible land types include grassland, wetland, forestland, and in some cases agriculture land. Land enrolled in conservation programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program, State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, and Managed Forest Law is eligible for enrollment.
Annual lease payment rates are based on the land type (agriculture land = $3/acre, grassland/wetland = $10/acre, and forestland = $15/acre) and are made in the form of an upfront lump sum payment at the beginning of the contract. Priority will be given to parcels greater than 40 acres in size with at least 25 percent usable cover and near properties currently open to public hunting and/or fishing.
Landowners who enroll in VPA-HIP will also receive technical assistance for habitat enhancement practices. Landowners who complete recommended practices will be eligible for habitat based financial incentive payments, in addition to the lease payments. Regional public access liaisons stationed in Baldwin, Janesville and Hartford, along with Wisconsin's Farm Bill biologists, will coordinate a habitat plan for interested landowners.
To see landowner and recreational user testimonials who participate in the program, watch the new video (Spanish subtitles and a Hmong version are also available thanks to U.S. Department of Agriculture NRCS award #69-5F48-17-004).