JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering a new program to increase public access to private lands for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP) provides incentive payments to private landowners who volunteer to open their properties to the public for these types of outdoor activities. Additional incentives are also available to enhance wildlife habitat on enrolled lands. The program will focus mostly on enrolling lands in northern Missouri, where public access opportunities are generally more limited.
Landowners can apply for MRAP starting June 1 until July 15. Approved landowners will be notified in August with enrolled lands becoming open for public use this fall.
Offered lands must meet eligibility requirements such as being at least 40 contiguous acres or at least a one-acre pond for fishing access. Land must also contain minimum amounts of quality wildlife habitat such as native grass fields, crop-field buffers, restored wetlands, or managed woodlands.
Thanks to grant funding through the USDA Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, the Department plans to enroll up to 10,000 acres statewide with emphasis on north Missouri. Tracts near major urban centers will also be targeted, as well as lands with abundant wildlife habitat.
Applying landowners may select one of six public-access options: All Access Hunting and Fishing, Small Game and Turkey Hunting, Youth Only Hunting and Fishing, Archery Hunting, Fishing Only, or Wildlife Viewing.
MRAP lands are open to foot traffic only and area users self-register at designated property entry points. Parking typically occurs along roadsides. Public access is only for types of use agreed upon by the landowner and posted at entry points. Participating landowners are offered liability protection under Missouri's Recreational Use Immunity Law.
Annual payment rates will be determined by the access type selected by the landowner, amount of quality habitat available, committed participation length, and other factors. Most landowners will likely earn $15-$25 per acre each year they participate. Payment rates for fishing-only access will be on an adjusted scale and will be based largely on impoundment size or stream length.
For more information and an MRAP application, visit mdc.mo.gov/mrap or contact local MDC staff. Find local MDC staff at mdc.mo.gov under LOCAL CONTACT.