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Land Sharing

A hunting group I’m in enjoyed some exceptional deer hunting for years in a county bordering the Ohio River. Then one day, the farm’s owner told us he had leased the property out to some other hunters.

I don’t really blame him. We were hunting for free. The other group offered to pay him enough money to cover the property taxes.

With more people paying landowners for hunting and fishing rights nowadays, trying to find a nearby place to wet a line or take your kids hunting is getting more challenging. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s new public access program.

Through this program, landowners who open their property to the public can receive annual payments ranging up to $2,500 or more. It�s modeled after a successful program that pays landowners to open their fields to the public for dove hunting.

The new program includes payments for larger dove fields and general hunting access through a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) from the U.S. Farm Service Agency. Property owners who open their farm ponds for fishing, allow everyone to launch boats from their private boat ramps, or provide access to waterways are eligible for the program.

“Kentucky has a lot of streams and rivers that are good for canoeing, kayaking, or fishing from the bank,” says Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s fisheries director, Ron Brooks. “The problem is finding access to these places.”

Public access does not mean a free-for-all, however. Landowners can set restrictions, including bans on alcohol, overnight stays, fires, ATVs, or camping. Landowners also have legal protection from being sued if someone is accidentally hurt on the property.

Department employees will also work closely with landowners to ensure that litter doesn’t become a problem. In fact, landowners can call the department and request cleanup of an access area, if necessary.

“The success of this program will depend on hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers understanding that they have to respect the land and the landowners,” Brooks says.

Payments to landowners will vary according to the quality of the land or water being accessed, improvements like parking, and the amount of restrictions imposed on its use.

To learn more about this program, visit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife online at www.fw.ky.gov, call (800) 858-1549 ext. 4457, or e-mail fw.publicaccess@ky.gov.


INSIDER TIP

Apply now for Kentucky’s 2011 quota elk hunts. New for this year: you can apply for an archery hunt or a gun hunt. Visit Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at www.fw.ky.gov for details or to apply.

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