The expansion of 28 wildlife management areas (WMAs) and the addition of seven new ones has added 4,405 acres in 24 counties to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 1.4 million acre WMA system during the past year.
These newly designated lands now are open for public use. Not all lands may be posted now but should be by fall hunting season. WMAs are open to public hunting and trapping and other compatible uses such as hiking, bird watching and cross country skiing.
Pheasants Forever, the Martin County Conservation Club, the Swan Lake Wildlife Association, Pelican River Watershed District and Cass County were instrumental in helping DNR acquire more than 1,000 of these acres.
“Partners are very important to accomplishing our natural resource goals,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “We appreciate the help of these groups and our outdoors people for helping to acquire these critical lands for future generations of hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy.”
More than 1,800 acres were purchased with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which receives one-third of the money from a state sales tax of three-eighths of one percent that Minnesota voters approved in 2008.
Other major funding sources were the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) critical habitat matching program and the $6.50 surcharge on the small game license that all small game hunters pay. Most of the RIM matching dollars came from the sale of the critical habitat license plates.
“The $30 per year charge for these colorful plates generates more than $3 million a year that can be used to equally match private donations to acquire or develop critical habitat in the state,” said Kim Hennings, wildlife land acquisition coordinator.
Most of the designated lands are additions to existing WMAs, complementing DNR’s previous investment in wildlife habitat. The seven new WMAs will expand opportunities for hunting and trapping.
Information about each of Minnesota’s 1,400 WMAs is available at www.mndnr.gov/wmas. Existing public hunting, fishing and trail opportunities are available by clicking the recreation compass feature at www.mndnr.gov.
In addition, DNR Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM) can assist people in finding land open to public recreation. The set of 51 separate PRIM maps identify a wide variety of federal, state and county lands available for public recreation activities such as hunting, camping, hiking and boating.
PRIM maps, which cost $5.95, are available from the DNR gift shop, Minnesota’s Bookstore, and several sporting goods and map stores around the state. PRIM maps may also be purchased online.
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The newly designated WMA lands soon will be added to the recreation compass and the PRIM maps.