News Item: Community-based Habitat Access Program goes Live in Lyman/Brule counties
(Category: News)
Posted by Lucy
Wednesday August 01, 2018

Community-based Habitat Access Program goes Live in Lyman/Brule counties 
By Jessica Downey
   Main street. Local landowners. Productive habitat. Access. Hunting stories that last forever. 
   Exciting things are happening in our backyard. The first Brule/Lyman County Community Based Habitat Access Program (CBHAP) contract was recently signed in Lyman County by landowner Mary Lou Gilman, who stated “This is just great, that a program like this exists to help landowners and hunters alike.”  
   Something this big only comes around once in a lifetime within our local communities. The local Brule and Lyman County Pheasants Forever chapters are hoping to improve our public hunting access programs. We are emphasizing higher quality habitat and enrolling these quality-based acres with accessibility to the public.  
   The Community-based Habitat Access Program – a South Dakota initiative - was started in January 2016 by the Aberdeen Pheasant Coalition to raise $100,000 to provide a sign-up incentive for landowners enrolling in three programs; USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), SD Game, Fish and Park’s Walk-in Area program and the new CBHAP with Pheasants Forever, making it the perfect trifecta. 
   This type partnership has been proven to work by The Aberdeen Pheasant Coalition, who added a substantial 14 GFP Walk-In Areas totaling over 1,400 acres of quality public hunting for Brown County. Following this framework, Pheasant Country, the Mitchell PF chapter, embarked on improving their habitat, public access, and helping local businesses and landowners by announcing $150,000 to go towards the CBHAP. 
   Brule and Lyman Co. PF chapters are hoping to follow these success stories with one of their own. Our pledge is to raise $50,000 to further incentivize local landowners to enroll acreages into public hunting programs. Currently, the chapters have raised enough to enroll 600 acres for prime hunting, but more can be done. The goal is to enroll 2,000 acres for public hunting in both Brule and Lyman County through the Community-based Habitat Access Program. 
   What does Community-based mean? Pheasants Forever, the national nonprofit organization, and the Brule/Lyman County chapters hope local businesses and individuals will contribute funding to the program as well. 
   Mike Stephenson, South Dakota’s previous regional representative for PF said “Pheasant hunting is such an economic driver in our communities, there’s no question there. Our local towns have gained a lot from nonresidents coming into their communities. We’re hoping they give back, so these local businesses can continue to thrive.”  
   Recently all pieces came together, joined by our local NRCS Soil Conservationist Jason Muldoon, GFP Conservation Officer Spencer Downey, and Farm Bill Biologists Jessica Downey and Nick Goehring. 156 acres of prime pheasant habitat were enrolled into CRP, GFP’s Walk-In Area program, and the Brule/Lyman County CBHAP to kickstart our local movement. These additional acres provide more habitat for pheasants and wildlife, which in turn will bring more nonresident hunters into the area boosting the local economy. Just in time as we begin seeing pheasant broods along our gravel roads.  
   Not only is this community-based habitat access program great for the health of our land,” said Spencer Downey, “it’s empowering our local community, businesses, and landowners economically, all the while, giving more public access for hunting around us. Plus, it showcases how great partnerships can come together to benefit main street.” 
   The program is pretty simplistic. When new CRP acres are available, and a landowner wants to enroll their property in the Walk-In Area program they can contact Jessica Downey for Lyman County or Goehring for Brule County.  
   The landowner receives payment for enrolling in CRP from the Farm Service Agency based off soil quality and county location. Then, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks offers $1 per acre, per year, for hunter access plus $5 per acre, per year, of permanent habitat for the 10 years it is in contract. GF&P also offers a one-time payment of $25 per acre for CRP acres signed into the program. 
   Now, because of the funding put forth from Brule and Lyman PF Chapters, landowners will get an additional $25 per acre sign-up incentive as a one-time payment at the beginning of the contract. Downey and Goehring, Pheasants Forever and Brule /Lyman County CBHAP will soon be working to reach out to businesses in the region to gauge their interest in adding to the funding source. 
   For landowners interested in the program and local businesses wishing to help contribute back to their main street by helping us reach our goal, please contact Downey at 605-869-2216 ext. 3 or by email at for Lyman County or reach out to Goehring at 605-216-4390 or by email at ngoehring© for Brule County.

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