USDA Announces Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Grants Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Monday, 04 October 2010 13:48
Funds will Help Improve Access to Private Lands for Recreation in 17 States

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 17 state public access programs will receive grants totaling $11.76 million through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).  The state programs were selected from 28 applications vying for the competitive VPA-HIP grants program that was announced July 8, 2010.

"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," Vilsack said. "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 and we are excited to assist these 17 states in developing new and enhancing existing public access and habitat incentive programs."

The 17 states and their grant amounts are:

Arizona - $600,000
Colorado - $445,318
Idaho - $400,000
Illinois - $525,250
Iowa - $500,000
Kansas - $1,500,000
Kentucky - $651,515 
Michigan - $457,449
Minnesota - $582,367
Nebraska - $1,091,164
North Dakota - $300,000
Oregon - $786,795
Pennsylvania - $1,500,000
South Dakota - $558,325
Utah - $84,837
Washington - $836,999
Wisconsin - $936,040.

The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive 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. Program funds were made available to states and tribal governments through a competitive process.  Eligible states and tribal governments could request funding for existing public access programs, to create new public access programs, or to provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands. 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.

Funding priority was given to proposals that use the grant money to address these objectives:

·         Maximize participation by landowners;

·         Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat;

·         Provide incentives to strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts on Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) land, if available;

·         Supplement funding and services from other federal, state, tribal government or private resources that is provided in the form of cash or in-kind services; and

·         Inform the public about the location of public access land

FSA will open the grant application period for fiscal year 2011 funding after publication of a final rule.  It is anticipated that the grant application period for states and tribal governments will occur in the late fall of 2010.

For more information on VPA-HIP and other FSA programs, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa.