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2017-10-11 / News

Hunting Access Program Offers Private Land for Hunting

Looking for a new place to hunt pheasants, deer, turkey or rabbits? Michigan’s Hunting Access Program provides private-land hunting opportunities, and great habitat—ranging from grassland to woodland to wetland—for a variety of hunting types.

HAP is an important part of Michigan’s Pheasant Restoration Initiative. One of the initiative’s goals is to expand pheasant hunting opportunities on public and private lands. HAP provides that link to privateland pheasant hunting opportunities.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan’s Hunting Access Program, created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan, where 97 percent of the land base is privately owned. It is one of the oldest dedicated private-lands, public-access programs in the nation, providing access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties and in agricultural areas.

Landowners enrolled in HAP receive an annual payment, up to $25 an acre, for allowing hunters to access their lands. Using funds from the 2014 hunting license restructuring and a new federal grant, the Department of Natural Resources has continued expanding the program over the past few years, moving into the eastern Upper Peninsula and northern lower peninsula.

“Providing access to hunting lands that are close to home is critical for supporting Michigan’s strong hunting heritage,” said DNR wildlife biologist Monique Ferris. “Our commitment to providing access has more than tripled the number of farms enrolled in HAP the past three years. We now have more than 190 farms and nearly 24,000 acres available for public hunting.”

Ferris said the Hunting Access Program also is good for the economy. “Hunters taking trips to HAP lands contribute $1.7 million annually to Michigan’s economy. The majority of the HAP hunter trips are only 25 miles from the hunter’s home, making HAP lands extremely accessible and close to home.”

To control the number of hunters using HAP lands at any one time, hunters are required to register to hunt each time they visit the property. Landowners may ask hunters to check in with them personally before hunting or there may be a self-registration box on site.

Visit www.michigan.gov /hap to learn more about the program and see a current list of private lands available for hunting in Michigan. The HAP Webpage includes details about enrolled properties, including types of hunting allowed and aerial photos.

Made up of many partners, the Michigan’s Pheasant Restoration Initiative is a conservation initiative to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat (grasslands), populations and hunting opportunities on private and public lands via pheasant cooperatives.

The initiative works by acquiring state and federal resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their properties and improving grassland habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas or other public lands.

To learn more visit www.mi.gov/pheasant.

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