The Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP) is a competitive grants program that helps state governments and Indian tribes increase public access to private lands for wildlife-dependent recreation, such as hunting, fishing or hiking.
States and Indian tribes may apply to use VPA-HIP grant funding to expand or improve habitat in existing public access programs or provide incentives to improve habitat on land enrolled in their public access programs. These incentives may include providing rental payments or technical and conservation services to landowners who allow the public to hunt, fish or otherwise privately recreate on their land and increase acreage enrolled for public access.
Nothing in VPA-HIP preempts liability laws that may apply to activities on any property related to grants made in this program.
VPA-HIP is not available to private landowners.
Only states and tribal governments are eligible to apply for VPA-HIP grants. Private forest, farm or ranch lands are eligible for assistance under these state grants.
Allowable grant amounts are reduced by 25 percent if the opening dates for migratory bird hunting are not consistent for residents and non-residents. This requirement does not apply to American Indian tribe grantees.
How to Apply
NRCS National Headquarters, on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation, will periodically publish an announcement for program funding (AFP) on the Federal Government’s grants portal. The RFA will provide objectives for projects, eligibility criteria and the application forms and instructions needed to apply for a VPA-HIP competitive grant.
Funding priority will be given to public access programs that address these objectives:
- Maximize private lands acreage available to the public
- Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat
- Provide incentives to strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts
- Supplement funding and services from other federal or state agencies, American Indian tribes or private resources provided in the form of cash or in-kind services
- Provide information to the public about the location of public access land