News / A place to go

From the Director

A place to go

by: Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Fifty percent of Wyoming is private land, mostly owned and managed by the state’s residents. We would not have the abundance and diversity of wildlife we enjoy without the contributions of habitat by private landowners. A close second to habitat in scale and importance is the tremendous access to hunt, fish and trap — opportunities that are provided by private landowners around the state. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Access Yes program that is dedicated to providing access on private lands. At Game and Fish, we want to take some time on behalf of hunters, anglers and wildlife to say thanks.
 
Access Yes has evolved over time based on the needs and desires of landowners and sportsmen and women, but the original idea and intention that formed the initiative have remained intact. The primary focus of the program is to find willing landowners who will allow reasonable public access. This can be through written permission on a hunter management area or through agreements that allow open access on walk-in areas or easements.
 
The 20-year-old program has resulted in hundreds of thousands of hunting and fishing days for thousands of outdoor lovers from around the world. Many kids harvest their first antelope or pheasant on one of these areas, and many anglers cast a line year after year on Access Yes waters. These opportunities are nearly as valuable as the wildlife and fish that inhabit them.
 
While Access Yes has been an important way to provide places for people to go, it is important to also recognize other opportunities that are provided every year by landowners not enrolled in Access Yes. Regardless of the manner in which access is provided, Game and Fish appreciates that so many of our state’s landowners are willing to share their valuable properties with others.
 
This access provided by private landowners has multiple benefits. Youth hunting and recreational opportunities are obvious, but these access areas also directly contribute to managing big game herds and mitigating agricultural damage. 
 
The program’s unique history and partnership is special, and I’m proud to see the success on the ground and how it maintains historical conservation ethics while evolving with the times. Access Yes embodies important principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, including ideology that our fish and wildlife need to be managed in a way to ensure their populations will be sustained forever. Our partnerships showcase the spirit of conservation that Teddy Roosevelt envisioned more than 100 years ago: that access to hunting and fishing would benefit society.
 
I send my most sincere thanks to the generous landowners who welcome those in eager pursuit of fish or game and individuals and organizations who donate to fund the program. Donations to Access Yes directly pay for access easements, not operating expenses of Game and Fish access programs. For every dollar donated, Game and Fish can pay for access to 3.1 acres. In 2018, donations provided more than 2.8 million acres of hunting access on otherwise inaccessible private, state and landlocked public lands. Additionally, 4,006 lake acres and 86 stream miles were provided for fishing.
 
Fishing remains good throughout the fall in Wyoming. If you have a permission slip to hunt on a hunter management area, best of luck in the field. If you’re still looking for that place to go — a walk-in hunting or fishing area is open to you and doesn’t require special permission. I ask that those who use private lands to hunt, fish and trap always obtain permission first and respect all lands, private and public alike, commensurate with the tremendous value they bring to our wildlife and citizens of our state.  All details, rules and maps are available on the Game and Fish website at wgfd.wyo.gov/public-access.
 

- WGFD -


 
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