A program aimed at improving wildlife habitat is giving Iowa hunters access to over 25,000 acres of private land for the 2016 season.
Iowa hunters are getting another perk this year. As if the state wasn’t already at the top of the list for hunting, access to over 25,000 acres of private land will help it stay at the top this year.
The goal of the Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP) is to help landowners improve wildlife habitat on their private land. A nice side effect of the program is access to new hunting land for non-land owners. In exchange for the funding assistance from the program, landowners agree to provide public access to their hunting property.
Landowners can agree to a contract of anywhere from three years to ten. Areas in the program are then patrolled by the Iowa DNR and available to anyone with an Iowa hunting license. The DNR treats all land in the program as if it were public land. In total, Iowa has over 130 properties and landowners enrolled in the program for 2016. Access to these properties is available to the public between September 1st and May 31st.
Access to hunting property is always a challenge for hunters. Year in and year out, hunters pay handsomely for lease rights to private lands. Through the IHAP program, landowners now have an incentive to open that hunting land up to the public. Representatives from the Iowa DNR and IHAP programs hope this incentive will allow more hunters access to coveted private land.
Private lands program coordinator Kelly Smith urges hunters to familiarize themselves with hunting maps and stay only on public land or private land enrolled in the IHAP program. For those interested, maps are available here courtesy of the Iowa DNR.
Funding for the IHAP program is provided via the Federal Farm Bill and Habitat Stamp program.