USDA announces 2015 sign-up and funding levels for Voluntary Public Access program
Washington, DC -(Ammoland.com)- The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and its partners applauded today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture detailing the 2015 application process and funding levels for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives Program also known as VPA-HIP.
Reauthorized in the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), this unique federal program provides federal assistance to states and tribal governments through a competitive grants process to incentivize landowners and managers to open private lands to public recreation such as hunting and fishing.
“The investments made in fostering private-lands access will benefit hunters and anglers across the country well into the future,” said TRCP’s Agriculture and Private Lands Director Ariel Wiegard. “Sportsmen are the original conservationists – having greater access and participation will benefit fish and wildlife habitat in the long run. We commend USDA for prioritizing this important program’s implementation for another year.”
In 2015, NRCS will accept grant applications through April 24th. Proposed projects eligible for VPA-HIP funds can span up to three years and amounts can range from $75,000 to $1 million per year. Funding priority will not only be given to programs that increase private lands acreage for public use but also those that strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts and inform the public about locations where access to private land is available.
“There is an undeniable connection between sportsmen’s access, hunting and fishing, and conservation. When sportsmen have places to recreate, they directly contribute more than $86 billion to the U.S. economy each year,” said Howard Vincent, president and CEO of Pheasant Forever and Quail Forever. “Last year’s VPA-HIP grants are expected to enhance access on more than 2.5 million acres, so we are pleased to see the momentum of this great program continued.”
“Hunting and angling is the economic engine behind fish and wildlife conservation – the financial contributions of sportsmen and -women help state fish and wildlife agencies restore and manage wildlife and their habitats,” added Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “NRCS’s latest funding announcement for VPA-HIP will add fuel to the engine by expanding hunting and fishing opportunities. It will also provide landowners incentives to enhance or maintain habitat and will strengthen rural economies.”
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About Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP)
Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing.
For more information about TRCP, please visit www.TRCP.org.