Minnesota’s Pheasant-Oriented Walk-in Hunting Program Expands
Minnesota’s Walk-in Hunting program, entering its second year and aimed primarily at pheasant hunting access in the southwest part of the state, will have more than 14,000 acres enrolled for the 2012 pheasant hunting season, up about 5,000 acres from last year.
Last autumn, Minnesota had 9,000 acres enrolled for the program’s debut. Minnesota landowners in 21 southwestern Minnesota counties are paid a per-acre fee to open their private acres to public hunters.
The program was initially made possible because of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Grants provision into the most recent federal Farm Bill, “Open Fields” for short. Pheasants Forever advocated heavily for the inclusion of “Open Fields” because of its habitat improvement stipulations and because access is the key to upland hunting.
Hunter use and support will be crucial to the Minnesota Walk-in Hunting program’s long-term livelihood, however, as federal financial support for the pilot program was cut short. When they purchase their hunting licenses for the upcoming season, Minnesota hunters will be asked to voluntarily contribute $1, $3 or $5 to the Walk-in access program.
More information and a map of the 21 counties involved in the program can be found at www.mndnr.gov/walkin. Locations of parcels enrolled for 2012 will be on the website in August.
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