Access YES Launched

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Sportsmen will soon have more land to hunt and landowners will have a few more dollars in their pocket with the launching of the state's new Access YES program.

The Access YES program operated by the Fish and Game with the support of the Idaho Department of Agriculture will pay landowners to allow sportsmen to hunt and fish on their property this season.

"It's a great program," said Steve Elam, Fish and Game Landowner-Sportsman's coordinator. "Hopefully this will help mend the gap between landowners and sportsmen. Landowners will be paid for allowing people in and hopefully sportsmen will treat the land like it was their own because they are paying for the privilege to be there."

With the new program just starting, funds are limited. This first year roughly $20,000 will be provided for each of the seven regions in the state.

"We will most likely be short on funds for all the bids we expect to get this year," Elam said. "But with the few bids I have already received, we should be able to acquire quite a bit of access this year."

Currently, bids in the state have been everywhere from no cost, up to around $3 per acre. Bids received in the Jerome Office range from no charge to around a $1.50 per acre - with $1 per acre being the average.

To enroll land in the program, landowners submit a bid to the Fish and Game on a form they can pick-up or have mailed to them from the Jerome Office by calling, 324-4359

Landowners will then list the species of huntable animals and fishing opportunities on their property, the type of access they will allow and how much it will cost on the application.

Access can range from foot traffic only to the use of any motorized vehicle. It can also be limited to access across their land to public lands or just to certain areas on their property.

Bids and information will then go before a committee of sportsmen. The committee will look over each piece of ground submitted. Land will be judged on the habitat it has for wildlife, size, and accesses to determine which ground will give the sportsmen the most bang for their buck.

"Hunting and fishing revenues generate over one billion dollars to the state economy each year," Elam said. "Our goal is to create access for the sportsmen of the state while working closely with the landowners and paying them for the privilege to hunt or fish their property."