Illinois Recreational Access Program Receives $540,000 Federal Grant to Boost Recreational Access to Private Lands

Chris Young
Illinois Recreational Access Program Receives $540,000 Federal Grant to Boost Recreational Access to Private Lands
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has received a $540,000 federal grant to increase wildlife habitat and public access for recreational opportunities on private lands. The funding for the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) is through the USDA Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, which was established to provide additional places for recreation for the public while improving wildlife habitat on those properties. 

“This federal grant will be used to expand our successful IRAP initiative to open up private lands for public use in metropolitan areas, and to create a mentor program for new and inexperienced hunters,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal.  

The $540,000 USDA grant will complement an ongoing VPA-HIP grant of $1.7 million for the IDNR Illinois Recreational Access Program that was awarded in 2014.

“USDA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service are happy to be part of this effort. Outdoor recreation and tourism are a large part of the Illinois economy,” said Acting State Conservationist Eric Gerth. “The other positive gain here is that these sites will allow more youth to experience and enjoy the outdoors. I see this as an opportunity to expose more young people to nature and wildlife where they can gain a better appreciation and respect for the land.”

The IRAP leases private property from Illinois landowners for outdoor recreational activities that include opportunities for spring youth turkey hunting; spring first-time adult turkey hunting; archery deer hunting; waterfowl, squirrel, rabbit and other small game hunting; river and impoundment fishing; and, non-motorized boat access. 

Existing IRAP locations can be found on the IRAP website and reservation system through the IDNR website:

Landowners participating in the IRAP receive liability protections, a stipend based on which recreational activities they allow and amount of acreage enrolled, an updated wildlife/forestry management plan for their property, and possible habitat project cost-share assistance to implement the habitat plan.

Currently, IRAP has more than 12,000 acres enrolled in 28 counties for recreational access during the next three years.  The IRAP is open to landowner enrollment statewide.  This latest round of VPA-HIP funding will be used to add additional incentives to landowners near major metropolitan areas including the Chicago and St. Louis metro areas. 

Though the IRAP program is open to enrollment by any landowner in Illinois, landowners in the following counties will receive additional incentives:  Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, Du Page, Ford, Grundy, Will, Kankakee, Iroquois, Livingston, La Salle, Putnam, Bureau, Madison, St Clair, and Monroe.
To date, IRAP and its partners have written more than 70 forestry/wildlife management plans encompassing more than 5,600 acres.  Since the program’s inception in 2011, the IRAP has helped manage 3,175 acres of non-native invasive species removal, planted more than 270 acres of native prairie mixes, and conducted prescribed burns on more than 730 acres of land for habitat enhancement.  IRAP is currently enrolling landowners throughout the state.  Interested landowners should contact:

Tammy Miller
IRAP Manager, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Phone:  217-524-1266
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