Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new effort to encourage owners and operators of privately held farm, ranch and forest land to voluntarily provide public access to land for the enjoyment of wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting or fishing, under programs implemented by state or tribal governments.
The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) is a competitive grants program that is only available for state and tribal governments. VPA-HIP grant funding may be used to expand existing public access programs, create new public access programs or provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands.
Twenty-six states have public access programs for hunting, fishing and other related activities. These programs provide rental payments and other incentives, such as technical or conservation services to landowners who, in return, allow the public to hunt, fish or otherwise recreate on their land.
Up to $50 million is available through VPA-HIP through fiscal year 2012. State and tribal grant recipients will be able to use the funding to provide participants with higher rental payments and provide technical and conservation services that will increase the number of acres enrolled for public access.
For more information on VPA-HIP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa.