Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have joined conservation partners in praising an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that a Farm Bill conservation program enhancing sportsmen’s access to privately owned lands will open for enrollment.
VPA-HIP, popularly known as “Open Fields,” offers incentives to owners and managers of private lands to open areas to public recreation, including hunting and angling. “In short, when VPA-HIP is implemented properly, it delivers!” says Dave Nomsen, vice president of government affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Millions of acres of private lands have been made accessible for outdoor recreation thanks to VPA-HIP. In the past, its biggest constraint has been funding. Up to $20 million is available this year for VPA-HIP.
“At the end of the day, sportsmen are conservationists,” stated Nomsen. “Access programs like VPA-HIP enable the recruitment of new sportsmen and the retention of existing sportsmen. This is good news for conservation. Access programs keep hunting and angling available to everyone.”
Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program
VPA-HIP is a competitive grant program that enables state and tribal governments to increase opportunities for owners and managers of private lands who want to make their land available for public recreation. Recipients can use the grant funding to create new or expand existing public access programs. These programs provide financial incentives or technical assistance, such as rental payments or wildlife habitat planning services, to owners and managers who allow public access.
Funding priority will be given to applications that propose to:
Maximize private lands acreage available to the public;
Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat;
Strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts;
Supplement funding and services from other federal or state agencies, tribes or private resources; and
Provide information to the public about the location of public access land.