A bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Montana Senator Steve Daines and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet would benefit Idaho hunters, anglers and landowners by increasing the resources available to pay landowners willing to open their private property for allowing hunting and fishing access.
The bill, called Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act, would reauthorize and strengthen the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program through 2023 as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Outdoor enthusiasts in Idaho are familiar with the Access Yes Program.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game was previously awarded money through a since expired version of this program from 2010-2012. This funding allowed the Department to expand its Access Yes Program, including notable accomplishments as:
- Opened an additional 30,000 acres of private land
- Provided access to tens of thousands of acres of “landlocked” public lands
- Developed a 30 year agreement to allow access on more than 51,000 acres of corporate timberland
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is very supportive of the outcomes that passage of this type of legislation would bring to Idaho.
Of Idaho’s nearly 53 million acres, about 31 percent is held in private ownership.
“Our staff works with willing landowners to allow hunting and angling access which is one of the top issues raised by Idaho sportsmen,” said Virgil Moore, director of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “Requests from landowners to enroll in Access Yes has been outpacing our available resources since it began, even as we add more funding capacity. Funding such as provided by this bill would allow us to provide more opportunity to our constituents by working with willing landowners.”
The Act has bipartisan support and is supported by more than 30 national conservation and outdoor groups and organizations.