Below are two news releases – one from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the other via Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks – about landowner programs that open or improve public access for hunting. Several other states have similar programs.
Attention landowners: Idaho Fish and Game is calling for applications for landowners to participate in the Access Yes! program within the Clearwater Region. This program is designed to promote public access for sportsmen to hunt, fish, and trap on private lands.
The benefits of enrolling in the program includes per acre payment for access, incentives to improve habitat through our Habitat Improvement Program and management of sportsmen, such as property signage and signup methods. Additionally, landowners are covered by the State Recreational Liability Statute, which means participating landowners are shielded from liability.
We are currently accepting applications until March 1. Successful bids will be selected, and landowners will be notified by April 1.
Remember, this program does not mean wide open access. It’s still your property. You decide when property is accessible and what harvest seasons are recognized on the property. You can restrict species within a harvest season and the type of travel such as foot travel-only, horseback riding or ATV/UTV accessible. For additional information or to get an application in the Clearwater Region, please contact:
Access Yes! Program Coordinator
Regional Wildlife Biologist – Habitat
Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands (UPL) Program or the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) Program.
These programs are designed to provide recreational public access to state (Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no or limited legal public access currently exists.
For enrollment in UPL, landowners will receive a tax credit in the amount of $750 per agreement and up to a maximum of $3,000 in tax credits in exchange for allowing access across the private lands, roads or trails to reach inaccessible public land. Landowners must hold the public land lease and decide how the public may cross their private property for all recreations.
For enrollment in PALA, landowners will receive monetary compensation, including possible infrastructure reimbursements (e.g., gravel, culverts, cattle guards, etc.) to facilitate public access to inaccessible public lands. Landowners must hold the public land lease. Compensation amounts vary based on a variety of factors, with one landowner possibly holding multiple agreements. The governor-appointed Private Land/Public Wildlife (PL/PW) Advisory Committee will review complete applications and make a recommendation to the FWP director on whether to extend an agreement.
“Offering a tax credit or payment in exchange for public access to inaccessible public land is a unique and innovative way to respect private property rights and increase public access,” said Jason Kool, FWP hunting access program manager. “We hope these opportunities and incentives appeal to many landowners throughout the state.”
While Montana contains millions of acres of public land, much of this land is inaccessible to the public and requires landowner permission for access.
More information about these two programs, including enrollment criteria, application forms, and fact sheets describing these FWP public access programs, can be found at: fwp.mt.gov/landowner.
(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)