Bennet Announces Colorado Parks and Wildlife Will Receive $1.2 Million to Expand Public Access for Hunting

Grant Awarded by Program Bennet Fought to Increase Funding for in 2018 Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will receive $1.2 million in funding to expand its successful Walk-In Access Program through U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), which Bennet secured increased funding for in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Walk-In Access Program enables public access to outdoor recreation opportunities on thousands of acres of privately-owned lands in Colorado, and currently supports a successful habitat and sportsmen’s access partnership between CPW and Pheasants Forever in Eastern Colorado. 

“This grant is excellent news for Colorado’s avid sportsmen and women and all who visit our state to hunt, fish, and hike,” said Bennet. “Expanding this successful program will improve wildlife habitat across our state, provide new opportunities to our sportsmen and women, and continue to reward Colorado's farmers and ranchers who make that recreation possible. I’m glad to see the funding I fought for in the 2018 Farm Bill make its way to Colorado.” 

“We are very excited to receive this grant, and the money will make a tremendous impact to our programs. We appreciate the work of Senator Bennet and the USDA to provide a shared commitment to hunters, private landowners and Colorado’s wildlife,” said Dan Prenzlow, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “These funds will help to maintain and advance Governor Polis’s wildly important goal of increasing acres for public access and also provide opportunities to benefit wildlife through critical habitat improvements.” 

The increased VPA-HIP funding that Bennet pressed for and secured in the 2018 Farm Bill was based on Bennet’s Voluntary Public Access (VPA) Improvement Act, which he introduced with U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in 2017 to increase funding for the program. 

Today’s grant to CPW comes as a part of nearly $49 million being awarded by USDA to 27 states to establish or expand public access programs through VPA-HIP. The VPA-HIP provides competitive grants to states and tribal governments that are used to incent private landowners to voluntarily open their lands for public use while upholding private property rights. Colorado has enhanced upland game habitat through partnerships supported by VPA-HIP grants and developed new opportunities for Walk-In Access to hunt big and small game.