Harvey County East Park To Participate in iWIHA Program
PRATT – Hunters in Harvey County will soon have a new place to hunt this fall through a new public hunting access program called iWIHA – a spin-off program of the state’s Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) program, which has become a mainstay for many Kansas hunters. WIHA began in 1995, and compensates landowners for acreage opened up to public hunting. Payments vary by the amount of land enrolled in the program and the length of the contract. And while the program has seen much success – nearly 1 million acres were enrolled in 2018 – there is still progress to be made in the state where 97 percent of land is privately-owned.
The iWIHA program is similar to WIHA in that landowners open up their ground to public hunting in exchange for payment, however access is controlled with the use of an online registration system, iSportsman. iWIHA allows KDWPT to achieve its mission of providing quality public hunting access, especially around urban areas where landowners have been hesitant to participate in WIHA for fear their land will become overrun with hunters.
Thanks to the efforts of KDWPT district wildlife biologist Charles Cope – in collaboration with Harvey County Parks director, Kass Miller – the newest area to be enrolled in the iWIHA program is Harvey County East Park/Lake near Newton.
Prior to the enrollment, volunteers with the local Delta Waterfowl chapter initially approached Cope and fellow KDWPT wildlife biologist Craig Curtis about opportunities for increasing hunting access locally where hunters have access to just four WIHA properties. It was then that Cope and Curtis began to consider the Department’s iWIHA program as a means for opening new opportunities for area hunters.
Cope worked with Miller to craft a proposal, which the pair then presented to the Harvey County Park Advisory Board and Harvey County Commission, seeking limited deer and waterfowl hunting at Harvey County East Park/Lake. Not only would hunting access be a first for the park, but the park would be the first of its kind to enroll in the iWIHA program. After five discussions with the Board and Commission, the Harvey County Commission approved an amended version of the proposal with a vote of 2-1 on August 13, and hunting access will begin on the property this fall.
KDWPT will lease two tracts on the north end of the park, one for archery-only deer hunting (47 acres) and the other for waterfowl hunting (13.5 acres). Where waterfowl hunting will be allowed, up to five temporary, four-person blinds will be constructed and maintained for public use, thanks to volunteers from the local Delta Waterfowl chapter.
Archery deer hunting on the property will be open from Oct. 12, 2018 to Jan. 13, 2019, and waterfowl hunting will be allowed during the Low Plains Late Zone duck and goose season segments, from Oct. 27, 2018 to Feb. 17, 2019. Through iWIHA, one hunter can register and bring a certain number of “guests” to hunt on any given day for each tract. Hunters can electronically “check in” the night before or day of the hunt to see if slots are available. Once the quota is met, no other hunters can check in until someone checks out. KDWPT law enforcement staff will provide monitoring and enforcement for the area during the two seasons.
Hunters interested in utilizing the two iWIHA tracts at Harvey County East Park/Lake must be enrolled in the iSportsman program. For information on iSportsman, including how to create an account, visit www.kdwpt.isportsman.net.
For more on the iWIHA program, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting,” “Hunting Programs,” then “iWIHA Limited Access Hunts.”