More than 20 years ago the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission started a program — known today as Access Yes — to increase public access to private and landlocked public lands for hunting …
More than 20 years ago the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission started a program — known today as Access Yes — to increase public access to private and landlocked public lands for hunting and fishing. Though much has changed since the first hunter management, walk-in hunting or walk-in fishing areas, the original intent remains the same.
In the past, many traditional landowners granted free hunting access to or across their lands. These landowners saw how hunting could reduce crop depredation and increase forage for livestock and ultimately aid in managing wildlife on private and adjacent public lands. However, as wildlife values increased and land ownership and usage changed, free hunting access was less available.
The commission’s access program was in response to increasing feedback from the public regarding the difficulty to access quality hunting areas and landlocked public land. In the earliest program and today, the commission provides landowners who enroll their property into the program with a payment, increased law enforcement presence, ranch-specific rules, signs directing the public to the hunting and fishing areas and public advertisement of the access areas.
As access to privately-owned irrigated fields, riparian and other areas and previously inaccessible public land increased, it enabled the department to better manage wildlife populations and mitigate agricultural damage. And there were more places to hunt and fish with great habitat and a variety of species to hunt.
Access Yes is a successful partnership between Game and Fish, private landowners and the public. It’s supported through donations, so please give to Access Yes when buying a license to ensure there are continued places to hunt and fish in Wyoming.
(Jordan Winter is the access coordinator in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Cody Region, which covers the entire Big Horn Basin.)