Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2010

New program encourages rural landowners to rent property for recreational use

July 8, 2010


— The Agriculture Department launched a program Thursday aimed at stimulating rural economies by encouraging landowners to provide public access to their properties for recreational use in exchange for money.

The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a telephone news conference and authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, offers state and tribal governments up to $50 million in grants through 2012 to expand or create public access programs and provide incentives for improving wildlife habitat on enrolled lands.

Vilsack told reporters that President Barack Obama and the Agriculture Department are committed to generating economic opportunities in rural communities to build a stronger future for rural America.

"We believe that encouraging outdoor recreation will play a very critical role in that effort to revitalize the rural economy — hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor recreational activities in landscapes located in rural communities represent a real opportunity to stimulate rural economies," Vilsack said.

He cited a newly released report showing that $13 billion in spending by visitors is directly pumped into communities within 50 miles of a national forest or grassland, money that is circulated within those communities to sustain 223,000 jobs.

The numbers of hunters and fishermen have been declining, and the reason most commonly cited is a lack of access or overcrowding, said Whit Fosburgh, president and chief executive officer for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

"Seventy-seven percent of the nations' hunters hunt on private land, but across the nation hunters have seen private lands posted or disappear as hunting grounds either because of expanding subdivision or the fact that private landowners simply decide to keep hunters away," Fosburgh said.

Twenty-six states now have public access programs for hunting, fishing and other activities. The majority of those existing state programs have limited scope and budgets, especially in these tough economic times, Vilsack said.

The federal program will provide those states with an enhanced opportunity to address public access on private land and develop wildlife habitat on them, said Keith Sexson, assistant secretary of wildlife operations for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

"As a state that is over 97 percent privately owned, Kansas has been aware of the critical need for public access to private lands for recreational purposes for many years," Sexson said.

Kansas has more than 1 million acres enrolled and has agreements with 2,200 landowners to provide access.

Sexson said that with the announcement of the Agriculture Program, the state planned to apply and use the funding to expand access in the state — particularly with private landowners close to the state's urban areas.

"States have been looking forward to this day," he said.


Clark Coan 7 years, 10 months ago

So even if you aren't a hunter, are all of these lands open for hiking, wildlife viewing and fishing?

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Like the idea, but just wait for the lawyers and insurance industry to screw this up.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 10 months ago

Wait for someone to make something called the "CatTracker 4 x 4" and get someone killed, and that'll be the end of that program.

Centerville 7 years, 10 months ago

With our state's love of trial lawyers? Not a chance.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 10 months ago

Rural folks are generally rural because they don't want to be near the city folk. When city folk go rural, they generally bring all of their city folk crap with them.

Additionally, who's going to pay for all the insurance required to keep city folk from suing every time they encounter a dangerous rural obstacle on private property?

Clark Coan 7 years, 10 months ago

You guys overlooked this:

"Kansas has more than 1 million acres enrolled and has agreements with 2,200 landowners to provide access."

Apparently no problems or the program would have been canceled.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 10 months ago

I think that those numbers are padded. I also think that the program hasn't really had a chance to be utilized. I also still believe that once people get out there, tear up the land, and someone has a serious accident on private property, all hell will break loose.

tolawdjk 7 years, 10 months ago

As a hunter, I won't pay to hunt on someone's private land.

Hunters aren't leaving because of increased subdivision (biggest crock of horsecrap I have ever heard. Who the frack hunted in Overland Park anyway?) or private landowners "turning" them away.

Hunters are leaving because private landowners are "charging". Gone are the days of asking permission, developing a relationship with a landowner, bringing some game back to show your appreciation.

Now its all $500 per gun per day or more if you want to "hunt" some farm raised birds that they threw out there earlier in the week in the hopes that they will be stupid and sit on the same spot.

It's sad, really. I imagine my kids won't hunt. Not because they lack the desire, but because they won't be able to afford to keep with tradition.

imastinker 7 years, 10 months ago

Property taxes are expensive, and if you can make a buck, who wouldn't do it?

You could always buy land yourself.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

What could someone possibly find interesting to do in a corn field other than stealing corn?

farmgal 7 years, 10 months ago

tolawdjk (anonymous) says…

Hunters are leaving because private landowners are "charging". Gone are the days of asking permission, developing a relationship with a landowner, bringing some game back to show your appreciation.

so, let me get this think that land owners should pass up the opportunity to make a decent income just so that you can hunt on their land in exchange for a measly quail or dove every once in awhile? sounds like a win-win for you, that's for sure! why don't you try bringing more to the table? like maybe see if they need help mending and keeping up their fences? or better yet, why don't you purchase a big parcel of land to hunt on, keep up on the mortgage payments, the taxes, the insurance, the maintenance, etc.?

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