The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Walk-In Access (WIA) Program sign-up is now open for 2020 enrollment until Friday, June 12th. Landowners who enroll in WIA can earn income by allowing public hunting on their private land during any legal hunting season from September 1st to May 31st. Eligible sites must be at least 40 acres in size with high-quality natural cover, which could include land already in a conservation program.
“The Walk-In Access program is a great opportunity for landowners to get compensated while providing new and exciting opportunities for public hunting,” said Dennis Fuchs, Stearns County SWCD Administrator.
Base payment is $10 per acre and an extra $1-per-incentive is added to the base payment if the site is greater than 140 acres, within a half-mile of another public hunting area, or if the landowner chooses a multi-year contract. Landowners will receive a fully signed and executed Walk-In Access agreement from the DNR on or before July 31st, 2020. Landowners enrolling or re-enrolling in 2020 will receive their annual payment by June 30th, 2021.
Since the launch of the program in 2011, nearly 27,000 acres of private land is open for public hunting from September 1st through May 31st. Hunters with a $3 WIA validation may hunt from a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset. Interested hunters can obtain a WIA validation pass when purchasing a hunting license. The DNR has placed bright yellow-green signs on Walk-In Access boundaries.
If you are interested in enrolling or have questions, please contact the Stearns County SWCD office at 320.251.7800 ext. 3. An atlas of hunting parcels is available online at www.mndnr.gov/walkin or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.
The Walk-In Access program funding includes a grant awarded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-3A75-16-509; a one-time appropriation from the MN State Legislature in 2012; a $5 surcharge on nonresidents hunting license; and donations made by hunters purchasing hunting license.