Public Access to Habitat
How to Enroll
Make a Donation

A South Dakota Community-based Conservation Initiative

Quality habitat, healthy wildlife populations, and an abundance of publicly accessible lands create a formula providing tremendous dividends for hunters, families, and communities throughout pheasant country. In South Dakota, Pheasants Forever is expanding this model for community-based conservation with the launch of its Public Access to Habitat (PATH) initiative.

Program Goals

Pheasants Forever will accelerate the enrollment of lands in long-term conservation programs while bolstering participation in South Dakota Game Fish and Parks’ (GFP) Walk-In Area (WIA) program. PATH provides an additional sign-up incentive ($25 per acre) for landowners to open quality habitat to public recreation. Click here to consult with a biologist for enrollment opportunties!

» Create Public Access: Annual enrollment of 10,000 acres of NEW WIA contracts

» Maintain Quality Habitat: “Undisturbed” shelterbelts, wetlands, CRP, easements, and grasslands

» Bolster Rural Economies: Direct impact on South Dakota’s economy and rural communities by supporting restaurants, gas stations, hotels, and tourism through outdoor recreation spending

Listen & Learn

Podcast Ep. 227: Introducing the Public Access to Hunting (PATH) Initiative

Host Bob St. Pierre is joined by PF’s Director of Communications Jared Wiklund and Development Officer Jake Hanson to announce the organization’s PATH initiative. PATH opens to South Dakota landowners for enrollment on September 1st and to hunters for public hunting access later this autumn. Ben Brettingen, onXHunt’s Regional Manager, jumps into the conversation to deliver the program’s first $250,000 contribution, in partnership with South Dakota Tourism, which will result in the PATH program’s first 10,000 acres of access


How to Enroll

Landowners interested in learning more about PATH eligibility can connect with a PF Farm Bill Biologist in South Dakota, or contact PF Development Officer Jake Hanson at (605) 880-1659.

How It Works

Creating communities committed to conservation.

Program Administration

The PATH program will be additive to the current South Dakota GFP WIA program and administered in a similar manner. Interested individuals/landowners will work with a private lands team member for site evaluation, implementation, and approval by an established review team. PATH program participation is only eligible for new enrollments (no re-enrollments at this time) and will be implemented on existing habitat or habitat that will be restored. Cropland is not eligible unless being restored or converted into wildlife habitat. Program payments will be administered through Pheasants Forever.

All lands enrolled and impacted by the PATH program will be recognized with a PATH sign in addition to the
South Dakota GFP WIA Sign on the property.

Example 1: 160-acre CRP/WIA

» PATH payment: 160 acres X $25/acre = $4,000

» South Dakota GFP WIA signing bonus: 160 acres X 10 years X $10/acre = $16,000

» South Dakota GFP WIA payment: 160 acres X $10/acre = $1,600 annually

» Annual CRP payment (based on location)

» Total Payment: $36,000 for Public Access + Annual CRP Payments

Example 2: 2,000-acres Working Lands with Habitat

» PATH payment will match GFP signing bonus for 10 year contracts

» PATH payment: 2,000 acres X $1/acre = $2,000 up front

» South Dakota GFP WIA: 2,000 acres X $1/acre = $2,000 annually

» Possible South Dakota GFP Signing Bonus

» Total Payments: $22,000 for Public Access

Program FAQ's

Where can I find out more information about PATH enrollment and land eligibility?

» Your local Farm Bill Biologist, South Dakota Private Lands Biologist, or local Conservation Officer
can assist you and provide more information about the PATH program and enrollment.

» All lands will be evaluated for eligibility by a review team.

How are payment rates determined?

» Your local Farm Bill Biologist, South Dakota Private Lands Biologist, or local Conservation Officer
can assist you and provide more information about the PATH program and enrollment.

» All lands will be evaluated for eligibility by a review team.

How are payment rates determined?

» CRP and high-quality undisturbed habitat is a base rate of $25/acre.

» Other acres will be assessed by a review team to determine quality and eligibility of the project.

How is “undisturbed habitat” defined?

» Habitat that remains undisturbed annually, outside of required habitat management practices (CRP MCM).

» Shelterbelts, wetlands, CRP, easements, existing grass that has not been hayed or grazed annually.

What acres are eligible for PATH?

» All acres but cropland will be assessed, unless these are being restored.

» Land enrolled into CREP is not eligible.

What is the contract length?

» Minimum contract length of 10 years.

» There may be exceptions for existing CRP to be prorated for years remaining on contract.

» Termination of contract would require re-payment.

Are existing and/or expiring SDGFP WIA contracts eligible?

» Expiring WIA contracts are not eligible for PATH payments when re-enrolling for 10 years at this time.

» Existing WIA contracts are not eligible for PATH payments at this time.

Is there cost share options for habitat restorations?

» No cost share is available through PATH but other resources may be available.

Am I required to sign up for a WIA contract through SDGFP?

» Yes, to enroll lands in PATH a South Dakota GFP WIA contract is required.

Make a Donation

Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs. Your support of the PATH program will directly create more acres of quality habitat and public access in South Dakota.

Select Donation Amount

$25 = 1 Acre of Access

  • (USD)