Walk-in access user study

Principal Investigator: David C. Fulton.

M.S. Student: Megan Cross, Natural Resource Science and Management

Status: Project is completed and a summary report is finalized.

The Walk-In Access (WIA) program provides public access to private land and pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access. The program is currently in its second year of a three-year Walk-In pilot program. The program has grown to more than 15,000 acres giving hunters access to more than 150 sites across 21 counties. Feedback indicates that the Walk-In access is working for both hunters and landowners.

The majority of WIA acres are enrolled for multiple years and are also enrolled in a federal or state conservation program designed to maintain cover on the acres. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded the first two years of the program and the Minnesota Legislature has approved additional funding for WIA. Hunter support is key to the program. Using the land, respecting the land and identifying a method to fund the program for the long term will be essential to build the future of the program.

Objectives of the study were to:

  1. Develop a survey instrument and self-administered mail back questionnaire to WIA users to determine basic attitudes and support for the WIA program.
  2. Develop a dataset for analysis so that data can be presented at Legislative hearings, public meetings, and to wildlife staff.

The majority of participants in the WIA program targeted pheasant, waterfowl and deer. Most were satisfied with their experiences at WIAs, supportive of the program and wanted to see it expand. About 75% indicated they would pay an annual fee for access to WIAs, with the average amount slightly less than $10.