| Natural resource managers can now access a comprehensive clearing-house of information resources crucial to improving hunter access, landowner relations, and wildlife stewardship on private lands, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. Combining years of exhaustive research with the expertise of numerous partnering organizations, the North American Hunting Heritage Action Plan (HHAP) Website (www.huntingheritage.org) now offers a comprehensive compendium of legal information and documentation to assist administrators protect and enhance North America’s hunting heritage. |
With data and research pooled from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Wildlife Management Institute, and Vermont Law School Land Use Institute, the online database is organized and cross-referenced according to state and/or information type. Users can view any state recreation trespass law while also examining past court cases that have challenged it. In addition, users can peruse summaries of financial incentives each state provides landowners who agree to preserve undeveloped areas or allow public and hunting access.
“This new web-tool will benefit many different audiences,” observed Katherine Garvey, Land Use Fellow at the Vermont Law School Land Use Institute. “For example, landowners can find their state online to see if they are eligible for certain tax incentives for allowing recreation access to their property. The natural resource management community can compare the conservation and recreation access-related incentives of state programs. And state policy makers and conservation administrators can gain insights into how to protect landowners from lawsuits stemming from hunter access.”
Increasingly, legal barriers and fear of litigation have stalled or prohibited private landowners from permitting hunters to enter their property. According to numerous studies examining factors leading to dissatisfaction among active hunters, restricted access to hunting lands has consistently ranked near the top of the list. Until now, there has been very little information available to policy makers and wildlife managers on how to increase hunter access while providing legal protection to landowners. Fortunately, the resources now available on the HHAP Website include not only a list of the ten recreation statutes most favorable to landowner protection, but also model statute language designed to shield landowners from liability for injuries sustained by recreational land users.
The new web-tool offers managers resources to explore ways that financial incentives have been and can be used to encourage landowners and land-holding corporations to participate in recreational and hunting access programs. “Tax incentives are among the most significant motivators for conservation of natural resources on private lands,” stated Garvey. “The Land Use Institute research available on the HHAP website is the first detailed compilation of state tax incentives of all 50 states related to conservation and public access.” Similarly, the compendiums of state recreation use/recreation trespass laws and their case histories provided by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies are exclusive to the new HHAP legal content.