IDNR looks to landowners to share rec areas

By Kelsey Gibbs | kgibbs@wcia.com

Published 08/25 2014 04:36PM

Updated 08/25 2014 06:14PM

ILLINOIS -- With 95% of Illinois' land area in private ownership, finding a place to hunt, fish or enjoy nature has been a growing challenge. That's why, through a grant, the Department of Natural Resources is calling on a group of people to help. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs finds out who they turned to.

The IDNR is calling on private landowners to rent their land for gaming and recreational use. One person says it's not just a monetary gain for him, but a great learning opportunity for youth.

Willie Schreder owns about 130 acres of land in Riverton. It looks to be nature's paradise.

"You can float from this farm four miles to Riverton. As far as putting in further upstream, if they have a private landowner, they can put it on. They can also take out there."

Schreder has been part of the IDNR's Recreational Access Program since it began three years ago.

"I do allow access to this property for canoers and kayakers, just non-motorized watercraft."

In 2011, the IRAP program leased 13,000 acres in 29 counties for youth turkey hunting, hiking and canoeing.

"We're also going to expand to small game hunting which will be like squirrel hunting, dove hunting and quail hunting."

But, IRAP manager Tammy Miller says the state doesn't have enough recreational space.

"Right now, Illinois is about 95% privately owned and we had a lot of requests from our constituents for access to property and we just don't quite have that."

So, with help through the federal government, a $1.7 million grant will increase the program statewide, adding more outdoor activities. But, staff say, with the state's limited outdoor space, they're calling on the public for help.

"So, what we are doing is leasing property from private landowners to open up access for things like the youth hunting. Now, we're going to add some adult hunting."

IDNR will begin enrolling landowners this fall.

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