Landowners Wanted For Walk-in Hunter Program

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Landowners interested in the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' (KDWP) successful Walk-In-Hunting-Access Program (WIHA) are reminded that the deadline for enrollment is July 20. The WIHA program, which began in 1995, grew to 100 counties with almost 909,550 acres in 2002.

Almost anyone who owns, leases, or manages 80 contiguous acres of land with suitable wildlife habitat can qualify. A large portion of the land enrolled in WIHA is also entered in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), but other lands are given equal consideration, including native rangeland, weedy wheat stubble, milo stubble, and riparian and wetland areas.

After receiving a request, a KDWP biologist reviews the land for hunting potential. Payment rates are based on the size and location of tracts and the number of months the landowner wants the land open to hunting. Depending on hunting opportunities and the landowner's preference, leases may run from Sept. 1-Jan. 31, 2004, or from Nov. 1-Jan. 31, 2004. The landowner also has options regarding the game that may be hunted and the equipment used on his property.

Once enrolled, the property is posted and is published in a detailed atlas provided by the KDWP. Conservation officers periodically patrol WIHA properties throughout the season.

For many landowners, leasing to KDWP's WIHA program is attractive because the landowner is free of normal liability. Under state law, private individuals who lease their land to the state for recreational purposes are immune from damages or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.

Other enrollment options include youth areas, spring turkey hunting, and habitat maintenance agreements. For more information, phone (620) 672-5911.