$15 to access walk-in lands?
It’s put up or shut up time for the state’s young walk-in hunting access program.
Originally intended as a three-year, federally funded pilot, it appears the program either is going to have to stand on its own, or go down the road.
This is why: That third year of federal funds isn’t coming. DNR officials hope to enroll 25,000 acres of land in the program by this fall, but keeping those lands open to walk-in access beyond that is going to take other funding.
The agency’s idea is to charge a $15 endorsement fee to hunters who want access to the walk-in lands. Buy the endorsement? Go ahead and hunt the lands. Don’t buy it? Stay the heck off.
The DNR says managing a 25,000-acre program will cost about $500,000 a year. So if the walk-in fee is to fund the whole thing, then more than 33,000 hunters are going to have to buy the endorsement.
For perspective, that’s roughly one-third to one-quarter the number of people who buy a pheasant stamp in any given year. It’s hard to know how people will react to the proposal. The 9,000 or so acres open last fall definitely drew interest, but it’s hard to quantify.
What are your thoughts? Would you pay $15 to access walk-in hunting lands?