A new program to provide additional land for public access has opened up more than 30,000 acres in 31 Wisconsin counties for hunters getting ready for the spring turkey hunting season. The Department of Natural Resources Voluntary Public Access  (VPA) provides financial incentives to private landowners who open up their land to public hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife observation.
Wisconsin received $1.9 million dollars through a competitive grant authorized in the 2008 Federal Farm Bill to implement this program. In March, the VPA program expanded into an additional 12 counties making nearly all southern two thirds of the state eligible.
“We have 178 lease agreements signed in 31 counties totaling just over 30,000 acres,” said program coordinator Melissa Keenan. “The land enrolled ranges from agriculture land to grassland, wetland, and forest.”
A number of properties are nearby or adjacent to state wildlife areas while other properties are on their own, creating additional access areas where no public lands were available before. Properties are open year round to all hunting, fishing, and trapping seasons.
“We treat these like state wildlife areas meaning access is limited to foot travel only and only portable stands and blinds are permitted,” said Keenan.
Property boundaries are marked with white signs in green writing stating “Private Land Leased for Public Access.” Users are asked to be respectful of landowners rights and appreciative of the privilege they have been given.
“The only way this program is going to be successful and available in the future is if landowners are satisfied with the program and are willing to continue opening up their land to the public,” said Keenan. All visitors are encouraged to reference the VPA Code of Conduct  and the Frequently Asked Questions  (PDF) sheet prior to visiting VPA properties.
In order to evaluate the success of the program, Keenan urges users to fill out a survey located at each VPA property entrance. “We’re hoping to find out how people found out about the properties, how far they traveled, and if they were successful with harvesting fish or game on the properties,” said Keenan.
Maps and additional information on individual properties can be found on the VPA webpage by visiting dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “VPA .” Any questions can be directed to Keenan at or firstname.lastname@example.org .
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Keenan – (608) 266-5560 or Bill Cosh – 608-267-2773