Attention landowners: looking to make the most of your land? You can support local hunting traditions and economy, improve your land, and get paid to do it! Consider enrolling your lands in the Hunting Access Program, which provides private land hunting opportunities for hunters in Southern Michigan and the Eastern Upper Peninsula. Landowners with at least 40 acres are eligible to enroll.
Michigan's Hunting Access Program (HAP) was created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan where 97 percent of the land base is privately owned. Landowners enrolled in HAP receive an annual payment, up to $25 an acre, for allowing hunters to access their lands. HAP is one of the oldest dedicated private lands public access programs in the nation and it provides access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties. Using funds from the new hunting license package and a new United States Department of Agriculture grant, the DNR, in collaboration with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and local conservation districts, plans to continue expanding the program over the next three years.
According to DNR Wildlife Biologist, Mike Parker, “Providing access to hunting lands that are close to home is critical for supporting Michigan’s strong hunting heritage. Our commitment to providing access has more than tripled the number of farms enrolled in HAP the past three years. We now have over 140 farms and nearly 16,000 acres available for public hunting.
Parker continued, “HAP is also good for the economy. Hunters taking trips to HAP lands contribute 1.7 million dollars 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.”
Landowners have the ability to choose which types of hunting are allowed on their lands. Hunting options include:
- All Hunting
- Youth & Apprentice Hunting Only
- Small Game Only
- Deer Only
- Sharptail Grouse Only
In order 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. The landowner can select either a mandatory registration at their home or a hunter self-registration box, which the DNR will provide and install. The maximum number of hunters allowed on the property is determined by the total acreage, as well as the habitat type. Leases are on a two year period, with annual payments made each spring.
To ensure landowner and hunter satisfaction, HAP offers landowner liability protection. Public Act 451 of 1994 addresses the concerns some landowners have over sharing access to their land. In addition, HAP lands are patrolled by conservation officers, with an increased focus on patrolling during the busy fall hunting season.
Visit www.michigan.gov/hap to learn more about the program and to 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 of the properties.
Eaton Conservation District can help you learn more and get signed up, call us today!