DNR Looking to Expand Walk-In Access
Minnesota — Enrollment opens for Minnesota’s Walk-In Access program, which pays private landowners to allow public hunting on their lands, on Monday, March 15. This year, landowners can receive $18 per acre enrolled. And the program is expanding to include more counties. Interim Program Supervisor Troy Dale says the Walk-In Access Program debuted a decade ago and has now expanded to more than 50 counties in Minnesota.
Since 2011, Walk-In Access has enrolled land parcels 40 acres or larger with high-quality natural cover. The program prefers that land also be enrolled in conservation efforts, such as the Conservation Reserve Program or Reinvest in Minnesota, but that is not required. Currently more than 28,000 acres are enrolled in the program. Dale talks more about what’s required from landowners who wish to participate.
Landowners can enroll in 1, 2, or 3 year contracts and there is no penalty for early termination. Landowners are not required to purchase additional liability insurance. Recreational use laws provide extra liability protection for acres enrolled in the Walk-In Access program.
Hunters must purchase a $3 permit with a hunting license to access enrolled land. Walk-In Access parcels are marked with highly visible signs posted by DNR staff. Participating hunters can access Walk-In Access land Sept. 1 through May 31. Hunting laws are enforced by DNR conservation officers.
Dale says the Walk-In Access Program is a win-win for both hunters and landowners and very important for recreation in Minnesota.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided funding for the Walk-in Access funding through September 2023. Other funding comes from a surcharge on all nonresident hunting licenses and donations from hunters.
Landowners can sign up for the program at their local soil and water conservation district office or by contacting Troy Dale, program coordinator, at 507-537-6616.