You’ve probably come across the acronym VPA on the Wildlife Resources Division website or in the hunting regulations. Georgia currently has 15 properties enrolled in this program. But do you actually know what it means?
- VPA stands for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).
The program was introduced in 2008 as part of the Farm Bill also known as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act.
- The VPA program provides more public access for the enjoyment of wildlife.
With 93% of Georgia’s land being privately owned, the VPA-HIP and other lease programs make thousands of acres available to the public for their enjoyment of wildlife. This program helps DNR meet the demand from recreationists by providing hunters more public dove fields and waterfowl hunting areas, anglers access to rivers or well-managed lakes, and other users opportunities to hike and watch wildlife.
- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers VPA-HIP funds through a grant program.
The grant program is open to state wildlife agencies and Indian tribes. Funds provided by the grant can be used to lease and manage private lands for wildlife, including opening hunting and fishing opportunities on those lands. The program is competitive ensuring that only high-priority, strategic and cost-effective programming is funded.
- Georgia was last awarded a VPA-HIP grant in 2014.
In 2014, Georgia was the only southeastern state awarded a grant. The grant money was used for lease agreements with willing landowners and a few nongovernment organizations. We will be running this program through 2019 with the current funds.
- The program is a win-win for landowners.
Landowners are provided free wildlife habitat and management assistance from professionals. They are also eligible to earn financial incentives based on possible recreation opportunities and habitat. The going rates are $10/acre for forestland, $65/acre for agricultural fields, and $100/acre for wetlands. Landowners also have flexibility in setting hunting dates available for access and the types of land use allowed on their property. Property can be enrolled for a length between one year and a decade and landowners receive liability protection by Georgia law.
- Georgia DNR is looking to add another waterfowl hunting property.
Our VPA program is currently looking to add 1 to 2 more properties specifically for waterfowl. Do you have property you would be interested in enrolling in a VPA? Contact Don McGowan at email@example.com for more information on how to become a VPA property.
- What do you need to access a VPA?
All you need is a valid hunting or fishing license and you’re all set to hunt your local VPA. Find properties close to you by using our hunting locations map.
Where do I find information on locations, entry dates, allowed game, etc. Are there maps available online of the areas with boundaries marked? This is probably published somewhere, but I just haven’t seen it. I am particularly interested in pounds, wetlands and put in take out points of small streams to float for duck hunting.
Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division
Check out our hunting locations map: https://georgiawildlife.com/locations/hunting
This map will let you investigate all of the WMAs in Georgia. You can filter for waterfowl specifically to see what areas are managed for ducks.
When you click on a “dot” it will pull up general information and provide a link to the WMA’s page. Here you can find a link to the regulations and a link to an interactive map to the area that you can print with boundaries and roads.