Agency one of 17 successful applicants; will receive $1.5 million in first year
PRATT — On Oct. 4, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Kansas is among 17 states that will receive grants through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). The successful applicants were selected from 28 applications vying for the competitive VPA-HIP grants program that was announced July 8. Eligible states and tribal governments could request funding for existing public access programs, to create new public access programs, or to provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands. The funds can be used to provide rental payments and other incentives, such as technical or conservation services, to landowners who provide the public access to their land for wildlife-dependant recreation.

This was the first of three application periods for the $50 million in VPA-HIP grant funds, which were approved as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. The initial 17 successful applicants will receive grants totaling $11.76 million, of which Kansas was awarded $1.5 million for the first of three funded grant years. Although funding amounts for the second and third years of the approved grant are contingent upon availability, Kansas could receive as much as $2 million in additional funds each year. But because the VPA-HIP grant submitted by KDWP was approved for three years, Kansas will not be required to compete for funding during subsequent application periods. FSA plans to open the grant application period for fiscal year 2011 funding after publication of a final rule. It is anticipated that the next grant application period will occur in the late fall of 2010.

The successful grant application, which was submitted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), will provide a tremendous boost to existing hunting and fishing access programs in the state.

“We were very pleased to be one of the first states to receive VPA-HIP funding,” said Jake George, KDWP Private Land Programs coordinator, who submitted the grant application. “The additional funding provided by this grant will allow further expansion and improvement of the already successful access and habitat management programs offered through KDWP.” For more information on VPA-HIP and other FSA programs, go online to www.fsa.usda.gov/vpa.