From Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
-- Landowners in 21 southwestern Minnesota counties can earn money by allowing public hunting on their private land through the Walk-In Access program.
The programs enters its second year as a pilot program and targets privately owned parcels of 40 acres or more already enrolled in a conservation program such as Reinvest In Minnesota or Conservation Reserve Program. River bottoms, wetlands and other high-quality habitat will also be considered for WIA this year.
WIA pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access. Bonuses are added if more than 140 contiguous acres are enrolled, if the land is within one-half mile of existing state or federal hunting land, or if a multi-year agreement is signed.
The sign-up period is Feb. 1 to April 15. Local Soil and Water Conservation District offices are handle program details and enrollments.
Last year 90 landowners enrolled about 9,000 acres in the program. The goal for 2012 is to enroll 25,000 acres.
"Studies across the country say that hunter numbers are declining because it's getting tougher to find places to hunt," Block said. "I see WIA as one way to address this, while also rewarding landowners for keeping their land in high-quality habitat."
WIA acre are one way to increase hunting areas. DNR conservation officers will address trespass and hunting violations. Enrolled acres are for walk-in traffic only; no vehicles are allowed on conservation land. Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas.
WIA land is for public hunting only. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed. Similar rules apply to WIAs as to other public wildlife lands. Once private land is enrolled in the program, bright yellow-green hexagon signs are placed at the property boundaries.
More information on WIA and a map of the 21 counties involved in the program can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/walkin/index.html.
Locations of parcels enrolled for 2012 will be on the website in August. The WIA program is a partnership between the DNR, SWCD, Board of Soil and Water Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is funding the first two years of the pilot program.