Washington — A week after states with successful applications
were notified, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced this week
that nearly $12 million had been awarded to 17 states to improve
public access to private lands.
FSA received applications from 28 states for funding from the
“Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program,” also known
as “Open Fields.” The program was authorized in the 2008 federal
Farm Bill, and earlier this year, funding was provided – up to $50
million prior to the expiration of the Farm Bill in 2012.
“This administration is committed to preserving and enhancing the
great conservation legacy of our nation’s hunters and anglers for
the benefit of current and future generations,” said Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack in making the announcement. “VPA-HIP will
help achieve conservation goals and increase opportunities for
hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation by providing greater
access to privately held lands …”
Topping the list were the states of Pennsylvania and Kansas, with
each slated to receive $1.5 million. Nebraska will get $1.1
Minnesota’s take is about $560,000, which will be used to develop a
pilot “walk-in” program that officials hope could grow to about
50,000 acres in three years. The estimated cost is $2.7 million;
additional money could come from the VPA-HIP in coming years.
In the first year, state DNR officials in Minnesota hope to sign up
10,000 acres for the pilot program.
Others states and approved acreages include Wisconsin, with about
$936,000, Washington ($837,000), Oregon ($786,000), Kentucky
($652,000), Arizona ($600,000), South Dakota ($558,000), Illinois
($525,000), Iowa ($500,000), Michigan ($457,000), Colorado
($445,000), Idaho ($400,000), North Dakota ($300,000), and Utah
FSA says the program “incentivizes owners and operators of
privately held farm, ranch, and forest land to voluntarily give
hunters, fishermen, hikers, bird watchers, and other recreational
outdoor enthusiasts access to land for their enjoyment.
“VPA-HIP funds may be used to provide rental payments and other
incentives, such as technical or conservation services to
landowners who, in return, provide the public access to their
land,” the press release states.
For more information about the program, visit