News release: Landowner enrollment begins for Walk-In Access program

March 4, 2024

Enrollment is open for Minnesota’s 2024 Walk-In Access program, which pays landowners to allow public hunting on private lands.

Since 2011, the Walk-In Access program has enrolled parcels of 40 acres or larger with high-quality natural cover. Land enrolled in conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program or Reinvest in Minnesota is preferred, but is not a requirement. The program is currently ten thousand acres under its cap, so there is room to grow within counties that are eligible.  Contact your local soil and water conservation district office to see if your county is in the program or could be added.  This year, landowners can receive $18 per acre enrolled. For more information about what land is eligible for this program, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

A $3 validation fee paid when purchasing a hunting license allows a hunter to access enrolled parcels, which are marked with highly visible signs posted by Minnesota DNR staff. Walk-In Access is often seen as a win-win for hunters and landowners, said Amber Knutson, Walk-In Access program coordinator.

“Hunters have 29,000 acres of privately-owned Walk-In Access land available to them,” Knutson said. “Hunters can have confidence that they’re welcome on these parcels.”

Participating hunters can access Walk-In Access parcels Sept. 1 through May 31. Hunting laws are enforced by Minnesota DNR conservation officers. Landowners aren’t required to purchase additional liability insurance since enrolled lands are covered by recreational use laws under Minnesota state statute.

This program is primarily funded through a Voluntary Public Access grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Additional funding sources come through a $5 surcharge on all nonresident hunting licenses, Walk-In Access validations, and donations made by hunters purchasing deer and small game licenses.

Landowners can sign up for the program at their local soil and water conservation district office or by contacting Amber Knutson at 507-706-6172. More information is available at the Minnesota DNR’s Walk-In Access webpage.

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