New House Bill Would Triple Investment in Successful Public Access Program

News for Immediate Release
Aug. 15, 2023
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262,
[email protected]

The Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act would increase funding for VPA-HIP to $150 million over five years

WASHINGTON – New U.S. House of Representatives legislation would make a critical, needed investment in a unique public access program widely supported by hunters and anglers, the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, also known as VPA-HIP.

Introduced in the House on Friday by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD), the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act (H.R. 5186) would reauthorize VPA-HIP and increase its funding from $50 million to $150 million over the next five years. VPA-HIP is the only federal program specifically designed to create opportunities for hunters and anglers on private lands. Currently demand from willing landowner participants far outpaces the program’s available funding.

Following introduction earlier this year of a Senate bill (S. 1161) led by Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act could be included in the new Farm Bill currently being deliberated by Congress. The expansion of VPA-HIP would enhance resources for private landowners who are voluntarily creating opportunities for wildlife-based recreation as well as provide technical assistance that fosters habitat stewardship and incentivizes restoration practices that directly benefit fish and wildlife.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has consistently voiced support for VPA-HIP and remains a vocal proponent of the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act.

“VPA-HIP is not only widely recognized as one of the most effective public access tools in the United States; it also recognizes landowners working to improve habitat and incentivizes restoration and stewardship practices that benefit fish and wildlife,” said John Gale, BHA vice president of policy and government relations. “VPA-HIP makes a critical, increased investment in a proven program that addresses the No. 1 obstacle for hunters getting afield: lack of access.

“We thank the foresighted members of Congress who introduced the Voluntary Public Access Improvement Act,” Gale continued, “and we urge our other congressional leaders to reauthorize this program and unite around a bipartisan measure that will triple its positive impact in the coming Farm Bill.”

Hunters and anglers are asking their members of Congress to support the bill.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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