|Photo by George Andrejko|
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today opened a new application period under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which harnesses the power of partnerships to create win-win opportunities for private landowners, science-based fish and wildlife conservation and the public.
The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the VPA-HIP with $40 million in total funding for state and tribal government programs to encourage owners and operators of privately held land to voluntarily make that land available for wildlife habitat improvements and public access for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies commends the leadership of Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Thad Cochran (MS) and Congressmen Frank Lucas (OK) and Collin Peterson (MA) for supporting funding this program.
By helping to increase access and opportunities for hunting and fishing, the VPA-HIP in turn also helps to generate financial resources for state agencies to manage fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.
Hunters and anglers are the nation’s foremost funders of state-based conservation as a result of their purchases of licenses and specially taxed gear. America’s sportsmen and women also deliver a more than $200 billion economic impact to the U.S. economy, especially in many rural and local communities.
NRCS is accepting applications for this round of the VPA-HIP through April 24, 2015 and the agency anticipates that up to $20 million will be available for this important competitive block grant program. If all $20 million available in this round is allocated, it will be the last VPA-HIP funding opportunity under this Farm Bill—which expires September 30, 2018—unless Congress appropriates additional funds.
The full announcement from NRCS is available at