Landowner and Sportmen Partnerships
Nearly 70 percent of Idaho is in public ownership and provides tremendous recreational opportunities for sportsmen and the general public. It is no surprise the remaining 30 percent that is in private ownership is some of the most productive and desirable lands in the state. The original settlers of Idaho were smart; they selected to settle in fertile valleys and areas with abundant water.
Jump forward a hundred years and sportsmen and the public recognize the importance of these private properties and the need for partnerships between sportsmen and landowners. Whether it is working together to give sportsmen access to private and public lands or working together to improve these areas for wildlife, partnerships are critical.
Improving habitat for wildlife and sportsmen access to private lands relies on a vast interconnected web of partnerships. They include activities with landowners, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, non-profit conservation groups and sportsmen groups. Together these relationships have resulted in a number of impressive accomplishments. These include hundreds of thousands of acres enrolled in USDA conservation programs, hundreds of acres of wetlands restored on private land and over 80,000 acres of conservation easements being placed on private lands in Idaho in just the last 3 years.
Idaho Fish and Game works with many of these partners to help foster landowner and sportsmen relationships.
Habitat partnerships are one of the most obvious. The Department and conservation-oriented non-governmental organizations work with landowners across the state to improve habitat on private lands for wildlife and public recreation and enjoyment. This partnership has resulted in the improvement of thousands of acres of habitat each year.
The Access Yes! program works to compensate landowners for allowing public access either onto their private lands or through their private lands to the public lands beyond. The program is funded by hunting and fishing license dollars, as well as proceeds from the purchase of Super Hunt applications. On average, Idaho opens up about 450,000 acres of private land a year through Access Yes!.
The Landowner Appreciation Program was first authorized by the Idaho legislature in 1986 and is a separate controlled hunt process available to landowners that provide valuable habitat for deer, elk, or pronghorn. The guiding philosophy of this program is to offer landowner tags as a form of appreciation for supporting wildlife on private land. Currently, 1,118 active landowners with 2,673,767 acres are registered in the program
The solutions to the challenges facing the public and wildlife in the future will most likely be the result of the continuation and expansion of partnerships.