Idaho hunters and anglers can expect to see a significant increase in public access to private land as early as this fall through Fish and Game’s Access Yes! program, thanks to a $900,000 federal grant recently awarded to the department.
The $900,000 grant will be broken up over three years and will allow for the continued expansion of Fish and Game’s Access Yes! program, which improves access to private land or through private land by compensating willing landowners who provide access.
As of April 2020, there are about 310,000 acres of private property enrolled in Access Yes!, and Fish and Game officials hope to substantially increase the number of acres over the next three years using the new funds.
Idaho Fish and Game received the $900,000 grant through the 2020 Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). The VPA-HIP is a program under the 2018 Farm Bill that provides funding to help state and tribal governments encourage landowners to allow public access to their land for hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-dependent recreation.
“All of the grant funding made available through this program will go directly toward securing access agreements with private property owners, thereby increasing the acres of private land containing quality wildlife habitat that are open to public access in Idaho,” said Sal Palazzolo, Private Lands/ Farm Bill Program Coordinator for Fish and Game. “We intend to begin enrolling new properties as soon as this spring, with the goal of having those properties accessible to hunters and anglers by the fall hunting and fishing seasons.”
Access Yes! is one of a handful of partnerships and programs geared toward improving access for hunters and anglers in Idaho, which also includes State Endowment Access and the Large Tracts Program. More information about each is available on the Hunting and Fishing Access page.
Fish and Game will also be using a portion of the grant funding to pilot a new wildlife viewing project in the Teton Valley, which will provide habitat and viewing opportunities for Sandhill cranes and waterfowl.