If you are looking for somewhere to hunt in Idaho, there are plenty of choices. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) owns, manages and keeps open to the public about 370,000 acres at its wildlife management areas, and provides literally millions more acres through its various agreements and lease programs that allow public access to various state and private lands.
Money for access comes from multiple IDFG funds, including IDFG’s access/depredation fee that requires a $5 surcharge for residents and a $10 surcharge for nonresidents when they buy their first annual license of the year.
All told, the agreements and leases provide statewide access to excellent wildlife habitat and places for people to hunt, fish, trap and enjoy other wildlife-based recreation.
“These demonstrate Fish and Game’s continued commitment to putting money from the access/depredation fee to good use and provide hunters, anglers and trappers with access to private and endowment lands while compensating landowners for their support of those activities,” said Sal Palazzolo, IDFG’s Private Lands/Farm Bill Program coordinator.
IDFG has 31 Wildlife Management Areas totaling about 370,000 acres and located in six of its seven regions. WMAs range from 275 to 85,000 acres and address specific priorities based upon the needs of wildlife in the surrounding area.
This access program is a revolving collection of properties where Fish and Game leases land from private owners to provide public access. Each property may be managed slightly differently, so it’s incumbent on the user to know the ground rules for each property. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation donated to the Access Yes program in the past, including $50,000 in 2014.
In 2018, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and Idaho State Board of Land Commissioner approved an agreement to continue public access for hunting, fishing, trapping and other wildlife-based recreation on about 2.3 million acres of state endowment lands. More than 96 percent of endowment lands are accessible by foot, watercraft or vehicle
IDFG partnered with timber companies to provide public access to their lands. Currently, IDFG has a contract with PotlatchDeltic to provide public access to 567,002 acres of private land for hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, hiking, and recreational travel on open full-sized roads.
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