Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program

The primary objective of the VPA-HIP is to encourage owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land to voluntarily make that land available for access by the public for wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting or fishing, under programs implemented by state or tribal governments.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

Not Applicable.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The funding provided by the VPA-HIP will help states and tribal governments address many issues that can greatly increase access and recreational experiences.

Grant recipients will be able to use the funding to provide higher rental payments, provide technical and conservation services to landowners, and increase acreage enrolled for public access.

Twenty-six states have public access programs for hunting, fishing, and other related activities.

These programs provide rental payments and other incentives, such as technical or conservation services to landowners who allow the public to hunt, fish, or otherwise appropriately recreate on their land.

Only states and tribal governments are eligble for VPA-HIP grant.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Only States and Tribal governments are eligible for VPA-HIP.

An eligible State government means any State or local government, including State, city, town, or county government.

An eligible Tribal Government means any Federally-recognized Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group, or community, including pueblos, rancherias, colonies and any Alaska Native Village, or regional or village corporation as defined in or establish pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C 1601-1629H), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.

Beneficiary Eligibility

The beneficiary eligibility is extended to the public for the purposes of expanding existing public access programs or create new public access programs or provide incentives to improve habitat on enrolled program lands.

Proposals for grant money should be submitted to the local State or Tribal governments by owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land.

An eligible owner is one who has legal ownership of farmland . An eligible operator (individual, entity, or joint operation) who is determined by the FSA county committee to be in control of the farming operations on the farm.

For the purposes of receiving grant money, an appropriate wildlife habitat should be suitable or proper, as determined by the applicable State or tribal government, to support fish and wildlife populations in the area. A eligible farmland or ranch land means the sum of the Direct and Counter-Cyclical (DCP) cropland, forest, acreage planted to an eligible crop acreage and other land on the farm. Eligible forest land is at least 120 feet wide and one acre in size with at least 10 percent cover (or equivalent stocking) by live trees of any size, including land that formerly had such tree cover and that will be naturally or artificially regenerated. Forest land includes transition zones, such as areas between forest and nonforest lands that have at least 10 percent cover (or equivalent stocking) with live trees and forest areas adjacent to urban and built-up lands. Roadside, streamside, and shelterbelt strips of trees must have a crown width of at least 120 feet and continuous length of at least 363 feet to qualify as forest land. Unimproved roads and trails, streams, and clearings in forest areas are classified as forest if they are less than 120 feet wide or an acre in size. Tree-covered areas in agricultural production settings, such as fruit orchards, or tree-covered areas in urban settings, such as s city parks, are not considered forest land. Eligible privately-held land means farm, ranch, or forest land that is owned or operated by an individual or entity that is not an entity of any government unit or Tribe.


Funding priority will be given to proposals that will use the grant money in a public access program to address these objectives:

Maximize participation by landowners;

Ensure that land enrolled in the program has appropriate wildlife habitat;

Provide incentives to strengthen wildlife habitat improvement efforts on Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) land;

Supplement funding and services from other federal, state, tribal government or private resource that is provided in the form of cash or in-kind services; and

Provide information to the public about the location of public access land. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Preapplication coordination is not applicable.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-110. CCC will issue periodic Request for Applications (RFA) on the federal government grants portal www.grants.gov.

Applicants must file an original and one hard copy of the required forms and an application. A State or tribal government must include all proposed activity under a single application per RFA review period. Multiple applications from an applicant during a single RFA period will not be considered. The applicant is the individual State or Tribe; any application form any unit of the State or tribal government must be coordinated for a single submission of one application from the State or Tribe. Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding. However, incomplete applications may be returned, and may be resubmitted, if time permits.

Data furnished by grant applicants will be used to determine eligibility for the VPA-HIP benefits. Furnishing the data is voluntary; however, the failure to provide data could result in program benefits being withheld or denied.

The following forms must be completed, signed, and submitted as part of the application; other forms may be required, as specified in the applicable RFA:
1. Application for Federal Assistance;
2. Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs; and
3. Assurances-Non-Construction Programs.

Each application must contain the following elements; additional required elements may be specified in the applicable RFA:
Title page;
Table of contents;
Executive summary, which includes activities which provide a summary of the application that briefly describes activities proposed to be funded under this grant; objectives, funding, performance which includes the tasks to be accomplished, the amount of funding requested, how the work will be performed, whether organizational staff, consultants or contractors will be used, and whether other resources will be used.

Award Procedures

Grants will awarded through a competitive RFA process. Before receiving grant funding, the grantee will be required to sign an agreement similar in form and substance to the form of agreement published within or as an appendix to the RFA. The agreement will require the grantee to commit to do all the following:

1. Take all practicable steps to develop continuing sources of financial support from other Federal, State, tribal government, or private resources;
2. Make arrangements for the monitoring and evaluation of the activities related to implementation of the public access program of the owners or operators that enroll farm, ranch, and forest land; and
3. Provide an accounting for the money received by the grantee.

The grantee will be required to monitor funds or services as specified and must agree to that monitoring before grant funds are awarded. The grantee must also certify that the grant funds and services will not be used for ineligible purposes.


Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.


The Food Security Act of 1985, Public Law 99-198, 15 U.S.C 714b and 714c.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not Applicable.


Appeals will be handled according to 7 CFR parts 11 and 780.


Not Applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

This program has no statutory formula.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this program.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Funding for VPA-HIP will be available through FY 2012. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: lump sum.

Post Assistance Requirements


No program reports are required.

No cash reports are required.

No progress reports are required.

Grantees must provide to FSA a Financial Status Report listing expenditures according to agreed upon budget categories on a periodic basis as specified in the grant document.

Annual performance reports that compare accomplishments to the objectives stated in the application that also identify all tasks completed to date and provide documentation supporting the reported results, if the original schedule provided in the work plan is not being met, the report must discuss the problems or delays that may affect completion of the project, and list objectives for the next reporting period, and discuss compliance with any special conditions on the use of award funds.

CCC will incorporate performance criteria in grant award documentation and will regularly evaluate the progress and performance of grant awardees.

Final project performance reports are due within 90 days of the completion of the project.


This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-133. Grantees must comply with the audit requirements of 7 CFR part 3052.


No Data Available.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Project Grants) FY 09 $0; FY 10 est $16,667,000; FY 11 est $16,667,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

No Data Available.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 3015, Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations; 7 CFR Part 3016, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments; 7 CFR Part 3017, Government wide Debarment and Suspension (non procurement) and Government wide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants); 7 CFR Part 3018, New Restrictions on Lobbying; 7 CFR Part 3019, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-profit Organizations; 7 CFR Part 3052, Audits of States, Local Governments and Non-profit Organizations

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Regional Agency Offices.

Headquarters Office

Kelly Novak, USDA, FSA, 14th & Independence Ave SW Stop XXXX, Washington, District of Columbia 20250 Email: kelly.novak@wdc.usda.gov Phone: 202-720-4053.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Incomplete applications will not be evaluated. All applications will be evaluated using the evaluation criteria and scored in accordance with the RFA. All eligible applicants will be ranked in order and a list will l be provided to the FSA Deputy Administrator along with funding level recommendations.

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