With a new grant awarded to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP), the access opportunities for public fishing and hunting on private lands will be expanded. Awarded through the 2020 Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, this $2.175 million grant was administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services and authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill.
VPA-HIP funding will be used to offer up-front signing incentive payments to landowners for opening their lands to public hunting access and lands already enrolled in conservation programs that create undisturbed habitat or lands containing high demand big game hunting opportunity will be eligible to receive the VPA-HIP incentive payment.
With the same funding, the GFP also plans to expand public fishing access on private lands as well. It will extend existing public fishing access leases and add new public fishing access sites to waters on private land. The VPA-HIP funding may also be used to create new boat ramps on private land to provide improved public water access to established fisheries. These sites will not only improve public fishing access, but public access for other recreational watercraft to use these waters.
“Over 80% of South Dakota is privately-owned,” said Mark Norton, “Obtaining access to private lands is very important to hunters and anglers, and to the great outdoor legacy we enjoy here.”
In 2019, over 1,500 landowners participated in GFP public hunting or fishing access programs statewide, providing public access on more than 1.4 million land acres, 31 ponds and lakes, and more than 100 miles of stream.
“This VPA-HIP award will allow GFP to continue to expand access to quality habitat and provide more places in the state for hunters and anglers to recreate,” Norton said.
“It is exciting to be able to partner with the NRCS to add an aquatics component to the VPA-HIP award,” said Jason Jungwirth, GFP Aquatic Habitat and Access Coordinator. “Opening waters on private land will provide added recreational opportunities across the state. We look forward to working with NRCS to implement these funds on some of the best habitat in South Dakota.”
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