Hunters in southwestern Minnesota will have access to additional land this fall as the state’s Walk-In Access (WIA) program continues to grow in its second year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

The walk-in program provides public hunting access to private land across 21 counties. Nearly 60 more sites were added this year, growing the program to more than 15,000 acres. Last year, 86 sites totaling 9,000 acres were available to hunters. Five counties have more than 1,000 acres enrolled:  Kandiyohi, Lincoln, Murray, Pipestone and Yellow Medicine.

“When we’ve done surveys in the past, one of the most frequently-cited reasons that hunters quit hunting is a lack of quality places to hunt,” said Marybeth Block, DNR program coordinator “Walk-ins help address that and offer some very nice new ground for people to hunt.”

Hunters can use walk-in parcels during any open hunting season, including spring turkey, with no landowner contacts necessary. Locations are clearly marked with signs, plus all parcels are mapped on a printed atlas and on the DNR website.

“Our website offers a number of ways for hunters to identify and locate walk-in parcels,” Block said. “In addition to aerial maps, we offer some neat interactive options through Google Maps, Google Earth and the DNR recreational compass.” Maps and other information on walk-ins can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/walkin/index.html.

Walk-in land is for public hunting only. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on WIA land. Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the first two years of the program and the Minnesota State Legislature has approved additional funding that will allow it to continue for at least two more years. Also, resident hunters have the opportunity to donate $1, $3 or $5 to the program when purchasing a small game or deer license.

“Hunter support is key to this program,” Block said. “Using the land, respecting the land and donating to the program will help build walk-in lands for future hunters.”

Walk-in land is open to hunting from Sept. 1 to May 31 each year.

Logo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

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