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SPORTSMEN'S ACCESS — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say they plan to use a $1 million federal grant and at least $400,000 from big-game hunting application fees to improve recreational access to private lands in Eastern Washington.
WDFW is one of 11 agencies nationwide to qualify for funding fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture in the second round of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, established under the 2008 federal Farm Bill.
The public can read details and post comments through Dec. 15 at this website.
“Hunters consistently rank access to suitable hunting areas as one of their top concerns,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director of the WDFW wildlife program. “With the additional federal funding, we’ll be able to build on current state efforts to expand hunting opportunities for years to come.”
WDFW also received a three-year $1.5 million grant to expand access to hunting and fishing on private lands throughout the state during the first round of the program. The department is currently using that funding to establish contracts with landowners to open their lands to outdoor recreation.
Pamplin said the new $993,231 grant will be used to expand hunting and fishing opportunities in Eastern Washington in several ways:
- Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
- Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs, as I described in this story about research to help boost CRP's benefits for pheasants.
- Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.