Hunters Can Use Nearly 23,000 Acres of Walk-In Access Land This Fall inMinnesota
Hunters in western and south-central Minnesota can access a total 22,800 acres through the Walk-In Access program that allows public hunting on private land, representing an increase of 1,700 acres this year.
“This program is great for those hunting pheasants, upland birds, deer and other game because hunters gain access to land without having to knock on doors to seek permission,” said Jesse Roberts, Department of Natural Resources Walk-In Access coordinator. Bright yellow-green signs have been placed on Walk-In Access boundaries. Maps of all sites are available for viewing at the hunter information page.
Printed atlases of Walk-In Access sites are being distributed across western and south-central Minnesota to DNR license agents, area wildlife offices, and county soil and water conservation district offices. Wildlife office locations can be found on the office locator page. The atlases also will be available by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.
The Walk-In Access program provides public access to private land and pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access from Sept. 1 to May 31. Most Walk-In Access land is also enrolled in private land conservation programs or has natural cover. Small inclusions of cropland or hay land may be present. Hunters must have a Walk-In Access Validation ($3) on their hunting license to legally access Walk-In Access land. The 2015 Minnesota pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 10, and seasons for several other small game species are already open.
Seeking permanent funding
The Walk-in Access program is funded from a combination of state appropriations and federal grant dollars. In August, a $1.67 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program will extend the program through at least the 2017-18 hunting seasons. Over the three years of the grant, the program has a goal of adding an additional 8,000 acres of Walk-In Access land, making about 30,000 available for hunting.
“Gaining access to these lands is vital to keep our hunting traditions thriving in this part of the state. The DNR has a 2015 Minnesota Pheasant Summit Action Plan, and in that plan we have made securing permanent funding for the Walk-In Access program one of the 10 action items,” said Kevin Lines, pheasant action plan coordinator. “We need a permanent, stable source for this funding to avoid putting hunting opportunities at risk.”
For more about the Pheasant Summit Action Plan, see the pheasant action plan page.