Iowa's Management and Access Program (IMAP) will allow the state to create and manage habitat on 3,700 private acres (mainly Conservation Reserve Program acres) per year, while making those lands available for public hunting for a period of 3-10 years. Improving habitat for upland birds such as pheasant and quail is a top goal of IMAP.
This is welcome news to the combined 180,000 pheasant hunters and 45,000 Pheasants Forever members in these states concerned about protecting habitat and gaining access to acres. These programs are possible because of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Grants provision into the most recent federal Farm Bill, "Open Fields" for short. Pheasants Forever advocated heavily for the inclusion of "Open Fields" because of its habitat improvement stipulations and because access is the key to upland hunting (in addition, 15 other states received funding to establish or augment existing programs). Upland hunters, of course, make up the largest and leading group of upland conservationists, so it satisfies on all fronts.
Most traveling bird hunters will still head west, but this is a good first step for some to head east…or not as far west.
Anthony Hauck is Pheasants Forever's Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauck.