This hunting season, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is taking significant strides to open up access to private and inaccessible public land for hunters. At its meeting on June 8, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved an impressive 49 Elk Hunting Access Agreement (EHA) applications. These agreements will provide access to a whopping half million acres of private land for hunters to explore.

Furthermore, FWP staff worked diligently with landowners to unlock an additional 540,000 acres of inaccessible or under-accessible public land through the Public Access Land Agreement (PALA) program in 2023. The Private Land/Public Wildlife Advisory Committee recommended 66 projects to move forward at its June 1 meeting, showcasing the commitment of both landowners and FWP to create more opportunities for hunters.

EHA Agreements for Access

“EHA agreements have proven to be a win-win situation for landowners and hunters. Landowners have the chance to obtain an elk license, permit, or combination thereof while allowing free public hunting access to at least three public hunters – one of whom may be selected by the landowner. – FWP Director Dustin Temple.

The popularity of the EHA program is on the rise, with hunters and landowners embracing it wholeheartedly. In the previous year, the commission approved 34 EHA agreements, issuing 41 licenses/permits to landowners or their qualifying designees. This resulted in over 375,000 acres of accessible land and a successful harvest of at least 285 elk, including 47 bulls and 238 antlerless elk.

For those interested in securing a public hunter slot in Regions 4 and 5, there will be a random-draw opportunity through public sign-up from June 15 to July 15. The remaining public hunter slots will be offered to those successful in the elk B license or either-sex elk permit draws, in the order they were drawn.

Not only do hunters benefit from EHA, but FWP’s PALA program also enhances access to inaccessible public land on an annual basis. Willing private landowners work with FWP to improve or secure public access, and they are eligible for payment and potential reimbursement for any improvements made to facilitate public access.

Opening up Elk Hunting Access

To find specific information about the PALA projects, FWP has posted them on its Hunt Planner map, which includes details about access timing, allowed activities, permission requirements, open road access routes, and other relevant rules. This resource is a valuable tool for hunters and recreational enthusiasts.

The EHA and PALA programs represent just a part of FWP’s suite of private land access initiatives. Others include the Block Management Program, which offers impact payments to cooperators for allowing hunting on more than 7 million acres of private and inaccessible or under-accessible public lands.

With such forward-thinking and cooperative programs, Montana’s hunting landscape is evolving, ensuring sustainable hunting opportunities while respecting private landowners’ interests. As hunters gear up for the season, they can take heart knowing that the Commission OKs Elk Hunting Access, opening up a wealth of new possibilities for their pursuit of elk in Montana’s vast wilderness. You can read more about this decision by clicking here. Likewise, you can read more Montana hunting news by clicking here.

So, what are your thoughts on this agreement? Has your state done something similar? Let us know in the comments!

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