Utah Division of Wildlife Resources WIA program manager Clint Brunson said the acquisition of land signed up in the program has exceeded expectations this early into the program.
"As we stand right now 10,544 acres have been enrolled in the program. And as far as access on rivers there are .7 miles of the Ogden and Weber rivers that have been enrolled," Brunson said.
"We have a really big one about 26,500 acres in Rich County that might come through for this coming hunting season. It includes both private and public land that is inaccessible due to the private land that surrounds it. There are also a couple more in Box Elder and Cache counties that might come together some time this fall."
The DWR had originally set an enrollment deadline of May 1, mainly for the purpose of posting the boundaries. But due to initial success, they have waved the deadline and will instead be enrolling throughout the year.
At least seven proper-ties are enrolled now, but look for new ones as they are added on the DWR Web site (wildlife.utah.gov/walkinaccess).
"There are some good properties that are coming available and coming online and hunters should keep checking to see what's been added," said Brunson.
Landowners started enrolling last November and since then there have been some successful hunts. Especially during the spring turkey hunt where Brunson said hunters were able to take birds in both the early and late seasons.
"Big test" for hunters
The biggest obstacle to overcome in getting landowners to enroll their property has been the fear of the public trashing their land, according to Brunson.
Landowners are nervous that there will be littering, shooting of signs and livestock and damage to fences.
"The big test is coming this fall to see how guys really treat things," said Brunson.
There are some excellent properties in the program. The goal was not to enroll just any land they could find but to enroll quality, productive land that might provide more than just one type of activity.
Brunson gathered information from local biologists and conservation officers to find landowners that have the quality land and might be receptive to the program.
"That's where some of these guys came from, some of them called us and some of them we contacted. I've had contacts through the internet, by phone and knocking on their doors," said Brunson.
Material from Fishing & Hunting News
published 24 times a year.
Visit them at www.fishingandhuntingnews.com.