Monday, March 18, 2013

Minnesota: Walk-In Access program expands to 14 new counties

Department of Natural Resources Logo
Department of Natural Resources Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Landowners from 14 additional counties now can enroll land in the Walk-In Access program, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Walk-in lands provide public access to private land. Landowners, in turn, are paid for the access. The program now includes 35 counties in the western half of the state.

“We’ve had many requests to expand the area of our Walk-In pilot program,” said Marybeth Block, DNR walk-in access coordinator. “As we enter our third year for the program, the time seems right to add some additional counties.”

New walk-in counties include Becker, Blue Earth, Clay, Douglas, Faribault, Grant, Le Sueur, McLeod, Meeker, Nicollet, Otter Tail, Sibley, Traverse and Wilkin. 

Walk-in targets privately owned parcels of 40 acres or more, which are enrolled in a conservation program such as Conservation Reserve Program or Reinvest In Minnesota. River bottoms, wetlands and other high quality habitat can also be considered for the program.

The program 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.

Landowners can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office for program details and enrollments.  

Block said that 12,500 acres are already enrolled for 2013 through multi-year contracts and hopes to add another 12,500 acres in new enrollments.

“Walk-in access is an effective way for landowners to generate extra revenue from their habitat acres,” Block said. “It rewards landowners who own high quality habitat and are willing to let the public hunt on it.”

Walk-in lands are open for public hunting only, each year from Sept. 1 to May 31. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed. Enrolled acres are for walk-in traffic only; no vehicles are allowed on conservation land.

Once private land is enrolled in the program, bright yellow-green hexagon signs are placed at the property boundaries.

Locations of parcels enrolled for 2013 will be on the DNR website in August. More information on the Walk-In program and a map of the walk-in access counties is available online at www.mndnr.gov/walkin