Landowners can generate revenue by allowing public hunting on their private land in 46 Minnesota counties through the Department of Natural Resources Walk-In Access Program. Sign-ups are Monday, Jan. 22, to Friday, April 27.
“This program is a win-win for landowners and hunters,” said Scott Roemhildt, DNR Walk-In Access coordinator. “And what’s more, by signing up for three years, landowners can qualify for habitat enhancement on their Walk-In Access acres.”
For Walk-In Access, eligible parcels must be at least 40 acres and covered by high quality natural vegetation. Landowners are paid by the acre to allow hunting access from Sept. 1 to May 31. Bonuses are paid on parcels that enroll in a three-year contract, are more than 140 acres and are located near a state wildlife management area or federal waterfowl production area.
“This may be an opportune time for landowners to sign up for this program because there is some uncertainty about how it will be funded in the 2018 Farm Bill,” Roemhildt said.
In a change this year, landowners who enroll in a three-year contract also may qualify for up to $20,000 in habitat enhancements on their land for prescribed burning, removing invasive trees and brush, or planting native species.
Walk-In Access parcels are for public hunting only and no motorized vehicles are allowed on conservation land. Bright yellow-green signs identify area boundaries and parking is along roads or in designated parking areas. Recreational use laws provide extra liability protection for acres enrolled in Walk-In Access.
Walk-In Access began in 2011 and has grown to more than 26,700 acres in 2017. The program is currently funded through 2018 with a three-year grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-16-509. Other funding comes through a surcharge on nonresident hunting licenses, a one-time appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature in 2012 and donations from hunters.
Landowners should contact their local soil and water conservation district office for enrollment information. Details can be found at mndnr.gov/walkin.