CHEYENNE - Since 2001, Wyoming hunters and anglers have had additional places to pursue their pastimes thanks to public access programs provided by private landowners and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
AccessYes is the funding program to compensate landowners for providing access. Funds for AccessYes are received through donations from hunters and anglers and conservation groups and organizations. In 2014, hunters and anglers donated $133,387 to the AccessYes program. An additional $76,570 was donated by conservation groups.
Hunters and anglers can donate to the AccessYes program at any time but most donations are made at the time of license purchase. April and May are some of the heaviest license purchase months of the year with resident application periods under way for elk, deer and antelope and nonresident applications for deer and antelope. The spring is also when most fishing licenses are purchased. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to remember the AccessYes program when making application for these licenses. All donations go directly toward the access programs to obtain access for hunting and fishing. Each dollar donated provides access to nearly four acres of private lands.
Two major programs; the Walk-in Areas, and Hunter Management programs provide nearly three million acres of access in 2014. Currently there are 659,972 acres of access on Walk-in areas involving 464 landowners. A walk-in area is a tract of private land on which the Game and Fish leases hunting rights for public enjoyment, sometimes the areas do allow hunters and anglers to drive vehicles onto the land. Participating landowners may receive monetary compensation based on the amount of land enrolled. As the name implies, public access is limited to hunting by foot traffic only and is limited to the time period and species agreed upon by the landowner and Game and Fish. In late summer, the Game and Fish updates the listing of walk-in hunting areas to the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Maps of the areas, acreage and species available are listed on a county by county basis. No permission is required to use these areas for hunting the approved species during the dates listed in the atlas.
Walk-in fishing is very similar to the walk in hunting program. Currently there are 98 stream miles and 3,781 pond/reservoir acres, involving 69 landowners, available under this program.
The Hunter Management Area (HMA) program differs from walk-in areas in that a permission slip must be obtained from the Game and Fish Department to access the private land. The majority of HMA permission slips can be obtained via the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. The Hunter Management Area program was developed to maintain and enhance access by forging agreements with landowners who control large expanses of Wyoming’s open spaces. A Hunter Management Area may refer solely to private lands or a combination of private, state trust lands, and federal land within the ranch boundaries. Last year, 1,102,370 private land acres were enrolled in 56 hunter management areas involving 169 landowners. Together with the walk-in area program, there is more than 2,973,000 private and public land acres available to hunters. Oftentimes, access provided on private lands also provides access to adjoining public lands as well.
Hunters and anglers can learn more about the walk-in hunting and fishing programs and Hunter Management Areas by going to the Game and Fish Web site wgfd.wyo.gov.
(Contact: Wyoming Game and Fish, (307) 777-4600)