BOISE — Looking for a new spot to hunt, fish or to simply stretch your legs? Look no further than the many Access Yes! properties found throughout the Magic Valley which is one of the most diverse regions for hunting and fishing in Idaho. From the bottom of the Snake River canyon to the cold streams of the Pioneer Mountains, from the rolling, lush Sublett Hills to the fragrant sage flats of the desert, the Access Yes! program opens a wide array of private properties for hunters and anglers to explore.
Partnering with private landowners
Access Yes! is a statewide program that creates an opportunity for people to access and enjoy private and public land that would otherwise be unavailable. In 2019, the Access Yes! program in the Magic Valley region opened up over 130,000 acres of private land while also providing access to more than 268,000 acres of public land.
After an open bid process, where any interested landowner can bring their property to the table, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game works in conjunction with a regional sportsmen review committee to select bids using criteria such as opportunity offered, cost per acre, habitat/wildlife availability, size of area and other considerations such as vehicle access restrictions.
Contrary to popular belief, the funds for this program and other Fish and Game programs do not come from Idaho taxpayers, but rather from hunter and angler license fees. In this case, these fees go directly toward opening up private lands for outdoor activities. These properties, some with use restrictions, provide prime locations for all kinds of outdoor activities.
Using the Access Yes! webpage at idfg.idaho.gov/yes, users can see a map of highlighted properties available for them to access. It is important to note that each property has individual restrictions to follow. For example, some properties allow access all year long, while others are open for a short window of time. Some allow for all types of hunting and even fishing, while others do not allow some forms such as waterfowl or predator hunting.
One main concern is the use of motorized vehicles. While some areas have a county road running through them, which is open for public use, most landowners do not allow the use of any secondary roads or two tracks. Another common restriction is no open fires or overnight camping.
Access to private land is a privilege
It is important to remember that access to these lands in the future depends on how sportsmen use them today. The actions of all users on private lands are observed by landowners, and keeping good relations with them should be taken seriously by everyone. Gates need to be closed, closed roads avoided and all users of these lands need to take note of property boundaries with other private landowners. It may only take a few bad experiences for the land to be closed to other hunters in the future.
Access Yes! is intended to open up tracts of unique land that would otherwise be inaccessible for use by sportsmen, while being mindful of each property’s specific limitations and restrictions. Fish and Game encourages everyone to take in and enjoy the beauty of these special places. The hope is that these properties are enjoyed to the fullest extent by you and others well into the future.
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