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Print

Grant aims to expand access for outdoors recreation

October 06, 2010 at 07:10 AM

The State Journal-Register

A generation ago, a hunter who wanted to hunt on another’s land knocked on the door to get permission.

Today, it’s not that simple. The owner may live far away or the hunting rights may be leased to someone else. And landowners have limited liability protection.

A new federal grant is designed to make it easier for landowners to say yes.

Funds will be available to reimburse private landowners who allow hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation on their property starting next year.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will receive just over $525,000 – the first part of a three-year grant potentially worth $1.5 million – from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for the Illinois Recreational Access Program.

DNR director Marc Miller says an access program is sorely needed, because 95 percent of Illinois’ land is in private hands.

Illinois is the nation’s fifth most populous state and ranks near the bottom in the amount of land owned publicly.

“Public access is one of the toughest nuts to crack,” he says.

Landowners already enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program are eligible for additional payments if they agree to provide access. CREP provides payments to landowners who agree to take bottomland out of production and plant trees.

The program also provides incentives for large landowners, such as mining companies, non-governmental organizations and utility companies to open their lands for recreation.

DNR will start contacting landowners in the Illinois River and Kaskaskia River watersheds soon, but the program will not be ready for this fall’s hunting seasons.

“We have 11,000 acres in CREP in Kankakee and Iroquois River basins,” said Debbie Bruce, chief of private lands and watersheds divisions. “We’re going to focus our efforts initially in one area so we can get landowners enrolled and have an example to show other regions of the state so they can see how it can be organized.”

Bruce said environmental assessments will have to be conducted on land to be enrolled to see if there are threatened and endangered species present and to evaluate any other potential environmental problems.

Access for fishing should be available next near, she said.

Miller says participants will be required to sign liability waivers at the local Farm Service Administration office to protect the landowner. It will not be a requirement that landowners buy their own liability insurance.

Landowners have liability protection only if they allow hunting or shooting on their land – not fishing, boating or other forms of recreation. Miller says the lack of other liability protection for landowners has had a crippling effect on access to private land.


Illinois Recreational Access Program

Reimbursement rates for cooperating landowners:

*Impoundments: $12 to $65 per acre for ponds or other impoundments.

*River access: $1,000 to $2,500 per stream mile per year.

*Fishing streams: $500 to $2,500 per stream mile per year.

*Youth turkey hunting and public access: $1.50 to $35 an acre.

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Grant (TAX) money to pay mining & utility companies whick work hand in hand and we pay them also, non goverment orgs., so I would assume either private business or non for profits.So, large Corps, that receive tax breaks and the non for profits that don’t pay any taxes? Large land owners. How Large? Large corporate farms that take great amounts of farm subsidies from the goverment and squeezes the small farmers out? Sound like kick backs to me. How are they going to provide access to the ground, parking areas? I thought the state already owned the creeks & rivers so this money is going to let you fish from the bank? How far will a person have to walk so they can fish? Planting trees, hope the contract states they can not be harvested after so many years,so the property owners won’t make a ton of money off of the taxpayers investments. Maybe I am being cynical without reading the details yet. But, anytime something like this comes out before election time, well, you know about, not even being kissed. Or maybe it will be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Other thoughts????

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/06 at 02:03 PM

youth turkey and public access-$1.50 to $35.00 per acre- Won’t help much in west central IL. if this includes deer hunting, considering outfitters are paying $35 and up!-$500,000 to 1.500,000 won’t go far here!  But Maybe Spingfield can figure out a way to get more NonResident revenue out of this program somehow! Surely!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/06 at 03:02 PM

Walmsley, Now the feds are involved in this to, the USDA and people that are registered with there program already, so DNR might not have much to say. Also Walmsley I live here in Sangamon County, but not in Springfield, look on the map and my posted name shows where. But here we have 1 Senate & 1 House member the same as you and everyone else in the state. So it is not all Springfield’s call or fault. I am not trying to start anything, but it sounds like you and others (at times) are trying to blame a town and not the people that are voted in from all corners of the state. It is election time, everybody needs to check and see how their reps voted on issues, or call their office and voice your opinion, before you send them to Springfield. This is not an attack on anyone, but blame the politicians not the town!! Thanks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/06 at 03:38 PM

The per acre fees are on top of what the landowner receives by being enrolled in CREP.

The outfitter question came up during the telephone press conference with DNR director Marc Miller Tuesday morning. He said rules are still being codified, but landowners are being reimbursed for allowing people to pursue recreation on their property. I didn’t include that in the story because I didn’t see why an outfitting business would be interested in allowing people to come on the property for free. It didn’t make sense to me.

Posted by Chris Young on 10/06 at 09:19 PM

Lets see, a landowner has a choice of leaseing directly to an individual or a group of people. He knows all of those folks. Or he can lease to the government and not have any control over who is on his property or even know them. Sounds like I want to sign up for this one. And a “waiver” to be signed at the FSA office for liability protection for fishing? Tort lawyers use “waivers” instead of Charmin.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/07 at 01:07 AM

The problem is that we are a highly populated state with 95% of the land being privately owned…add to that all the advertising that our state gets for being the Big Buck Meca and there you go.  Be honest, if you had 150 acres, would you let anyone hunt or fish on it for just a few dollars?  I wouldn’t.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/07 at 01:01 PM

Berlin- Let me clarify- By Springfield I meant: The IDNR AND Sullivan AND Tracy- They’re all outfitting/NonResident Revenue Lovers-

Nothing to do with the town/county or the good Residents there- Believe me!  And thank you!  TW

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/07 at 03:41 PM

Sorry colonel but these types of access programs do work in many other states and I love how land owners have no protection lol they have tons of protection for allowing hunting if they don’t charge. Don’t have to be a land owner to read.
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Tree I’m sure there are property owners that just do not use their land and don’t want to deal with private leases, everyone has different reasons.
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Now what I want to know is how much will be left to make payments after the enviromental studies are done, sounds like an angle to bleed money out of the fund.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/07 at 07:02 PM

Great website man…thanks for the post…this article was really great…keep on posting such stuff…great work….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/08 at 01:02 AM

cougs: Yes these programs do work in states where the lease rate is less than $10 per acre- that is not even close to the market rates in Illinois. And remember this is Illinois so you have to look behind the headlines and the press conferences to get the real details and reality check. Here is what this $525k is going to be spent on: #1. A “fishing access program” for the Kankakee River #2. A youth turkey hunt with the NWTF. #3. 2 new access points for canoeing on the Kankakee River. #4. Walkin fishing access to a 200 acre lake #5. Access to 500 acres (youth deer only) on large landowner property (I think that is probably the property the Illinois Conservation Foundation already took possession of) and for the rest of the state the DNR will print up the liability waivers that are as useless as “Not responsible for accident” signs. While some of these ideas are worthwhile they really will do little to address the problem unless you want to canoe the Kankakee. And these programs only get funded IF there is money left after the environmental studies/bureacracy siphon off their cut first. Thus you can look for many of the above listed to fail to get funded as that 525k shrinks during the studies- just the reality of how things historically work here in IL. The paradise promised by the press conference in an election year turns out to be some pretty barren land after.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/08 at 08:17 AM

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful and very interesting discussion.

A few more tidbits from the press conference and an observation or two:

1. Marc Miller said DNR is absorbing some administration/personnel expense of the program as part of the state’s match.

2. They are required to do the environmental studies by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

3. You are correct that not all of the money will be used as payouts to landowners. In addition to the expense of environmental studies, there also was mention funds for habitat work, such as Timber Stand Improvement (TSI). For example, if you are going to offer turkey hunting, it would be good if the forest was properly managed to provide good turkey habitat and therefore decent hunting opportunity.

4. Lots of details still are being worked out.

5. I agree that the issue of waivers of liability is one that needs more clarification. The offer of a signed waiver may not be enough insurance for some landowners. The whole issue of liability for landowners ultimately will need to be addressed by the General Assembly.

Posted by Chris Young on 10/08 at 08:41 AM

Treehgger,yes i would let people hunt for free thats the whole problem our tx dlrs are already paying the land owners who grow crops and some that dont land prices would be alot lower without farm subsides.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/08 at 03:08 PM

Can’t disagree with your last post colonel, I seen the the studies as a way to siphon money out of the fund from the get go, but what really has me wondering is the access to 500 acres for youth hunts, this would mean the state is going to get paid to allow hunts on land all ready owned by the DNR.
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Murdy I would assume that being the state and not the individual is paying and that the state is running the show the land owner would not be liable, but thats just an assumption.
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On the liability issue I find it funny the politicians and DNR can rush bills through to get fees raised and funds swept yet can’t seem to add protection for landowners who allow public outdoor recreation on there land and waters. Then they all sit around and talk about how we need this or that.
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I know Mr Miller or at least some of his cronies read these posts, so here is a message GET OFF YOUR REAR ENDS AND GET THIS STUFF DONE, YOU GOT YOUR FEE INCREASES NOW MAKE GOOD ON YOUR WORD NO MORE EXCUSES.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/09 at 12:14 AM

Do ya think spoonriver aka privateowner aka fultoncountyhuntersneightbor will take advantage of this program?


He owns like 4000 acres, surely he is cool with sharing.  Never kills any deer on his property and complains about how many there are.  Just do not shoot any of the wolves that reside on his property and its cool.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/09 at 01:34 AM

cougs: the answer to the liability issue can be found in the campaign disclosure report for almost any representative or senator. 20k here from the Trial Lawyers Association, 10k there from the Illinois State Bar Association, 2500 from their county bar association, 2500 from law firm “A” etc.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/09 at 05:27 AM

Lets see the lawyers get paid, politicians get bribed, and insurance companies get paid premiums, why would any of them want an end to it. I whole heartily share in the cynicism.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/09 at 04:30 PM

Murdy: If what you believe is true then why does Illinois rank number 5 as the state with the most litigation and the highest damage awards? Why does Illinois have 2 of the top 10 counties in the coutry (Madison and Cook) listed as “litigation magnets”? Yet on the flip side Illinois ranks right in the middle at 29th, as far as insurance premiums. 90% of all campaign contributions to Madison County judicial candidates were received from trial lawyers (this earned madison the designation as the worst court system in the US). One single judges race brought in $100,000 contributions from each of five individual trial lawyers to the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/10 at 06:19 AM

Well maybe it is the home court advantage that you have when 40% of the Representatives are lawyers/law school grads. But the bottom line is that the reason that a landowner in Illinois who allows someone to fish in his pond is not protected from lawsuits (unlike hunting) is because the Trial Lawyers Association opposed that exemption and threatened to kill the entire bill if it remained in the most recent revision of the law. Where was the insurance lobby for that one? Guess they don’t have to pay out for any drownings or farm pond accidents.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/10 at 06:40 PM

First Ajfranks, im not spoonriver or whoever you think i am, this is my first and only name i have used on here so go put your tinfoil helmet on and try again. Second,no i wouldnt take advantage of this program because as i stated before its not about the money. I let people hunt my land that let me hunt theirs. Third with this program im sure there will be some abuse because there usually is with anything but i think its a step in the right direction so people can have more acess, im sure some landowners will take advantage of this program. As for people talking bout subsidies and other crap, well not all landowners are farmers or recieve anything from government. And last statement as always is if you dont like any of these rules or lack of public land then you can always go buy your own since its dirt cheap right now.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/11 at 06:40 AM

I don’t believe one is necessarily adverse to the other, you buy a policy to keep from being sued, insurance co. makes money, and if you?re sued the insur co. pays the lawyer and Slick, which comes from a portion the premium payments that you and others paid to keep from being sued. I’m sure insur. co. would like to limit amounts (tort-reform) but if all litigation were stopped who would need the insurance. “Small and loosely organized,? I think not more like large and powerful and a well connected lobby. I can’t think of a better reason why insur. co. can’t get tort-reform off the shelf.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/11 at 07:41 AM

The fact that this is being “talked about” is at least a great start!  I just got back from a week in Wyoming.  They have a ‘walk-in’ program that sounds similar to this.  I hope eventually this will be a realistic option for landowners rather than doing nothing or leasing to outfitters.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/11 at 02:30 PM

The Colonel is right on and the reason that the insurance companies don’t give more in contributions is because they can’t.  I think 10,000 is the limit now per candidate per corporation/organization.  Now lawyers outnumber insurance agencies 20 fold.  Lawyers use the same process as unions in that each local can contribute as well as its national union also each local’s pension fund can contribute so on a so forth and this leads to a lot more contributions overall.

Posted by Metallicat85 on 10/12 at 09:16 AM

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