In this file photo from 2020, a whitetail buck in velvet antlers stands in a soybean field. The Division of Wildlife unveiled the new Ohio Landowner and Hunter Access Partnership as a way to bridge the gap between hunters and private land in Ohio. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has announced the introduction of a new program that will help bridge the gap between private landowners and hunters.
The Ohio Landowner and Hunter Access Partnership (OLHAP) program is designed to give hunters more opportunities while giving farmers a new source of income for their property.
Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said the introduction of the program will open up a lot areas in the state that has previously been closed to hunters looking for new land to explore.
“Ohio is 95% privately-owned and many of these lands are prime outdoor recreational areas,” said Wecker. “This new program helps connect landowners and hunters through incentives and opens many more acres of land to Ohio’s hunting enthusiasts.”
The program offers landowners to voluntarily enroll in a two to three-year contract with the state to offer hunting on their land.
In return, Ohio will annually pay landowners $2-$30 per acre, depending on the characteristics of the property. Land with more wildlife cover, wetlands, grasslands, brushlands or forest will receive more money per acre, according to the Division of Wildlife.
The program is being paid for from the 2018 federal Farm Bill under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. As a part of the bill, Ohio received $1,831,500 to implement the new program.
“Landowners with a significant amount of wildlife habitat on their property and those already enrolled in designated conservation programs will be given preference,” according to a release from the Division of Wildlife.
The state has said it would like to gain access to more than 20,000 acres of private land across Ohio through the program.
Landowners would be required to post and maintain signage provided by the state of the designated OLHAP area.
They must also maintain or increase current wildlife habitat on the enrolled land and keep ownership of the property throughout the agreement period.
Hunters looking to hunt the newly established lands will be required to carry an OLHAP permit when hunting. Permits are given out daily and can be obtained through an online check-in system that is still being developed.
The program, which begins this year, will be open from Sept. 1 until June 1 each year and permits will be valid from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. for the day of the hunt.
A permit can not be obtained any earlier than 12:01 a.m. the day the hunter wishes to use the property.
All members of the hunting party must have an OLHAP permit issued in their name.
Due to the federal monies given for the program, fishing, trapping and white-tail deer gun hunting is not allowed under the program.
However, landowners can still give written permission for those activities on their property, according to a statement from the Division of Wildlife.
For more information about the program visit wildohio.gov.
At left is the Ohio Landowners and Hunter Access Partnership sign that will be posted on farmland that is enrolled in the program. (Photo submitted)