Private Lands Access Program

Sponsoring Agency or Organization

Contact: Mick Cope


Phone: 360-902-2691

Program details

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reaches agreements with private landowners to allow the public access to their property. These agreements are typically for hunting, although can also include other outdoor recreation such as fishing. While the majority of lands currently in the program are farming and ranching lands, industrial timberlands are also made available through the program.

Four main types of landowner agreements are used, including:
* Feel Free To Hunt: lands are open without gaining further permission from the landowner.
* Register To Hunt: lands are open to hunting, but require the hunter to sign in before hunting and sign out afterward.
* Hunt By Written Permission: lands open to public hunting, but hunters are required to contact the landowner and obtain a permission slip prior to going afield.
* Landowner Hunting Permits: lands open to public hunting through a special permit specially allocated to the landowner and distributed to hunters via a random drawing.

Planning and Evaluation
Program objectives: 
Acquire public access to 1,500,000 acres of private lands statewide.

Manual or Plan

This program has a manual or plan: No


This program is evaluated: Yes

Comments: Program has been evaluated and prioritized internally. Focus areas have been developed and vetted with hunting advisory groups. Random surveys have been conducted to evaluate public opinion of access programs and what they provide. Annual evaluations of the Hunt By Written Permission program are conducted.

Metrics used to measure success and evaluate this program:
  • Number of acres
  • Number of participants (landowners)
  • Number of participants (hunters)
  • General, unstructured feedback from hunters
  • Informal after-season evaluations
  • Informal qualitative evaluations based on participant hunter feedback
  • Hunter surveys
  • Landowner surveys
  • License sales
How effective is the program at meeting your objectives?: Moderately effective
Would you recommend other agencies/organizations use this model?: Don't Know
General Comments: * Access programs, or pieces of access programs, can be very state-specific based on funding, target species, and constituent desires. * The variety of options provided in Washington is an attempt to satisfy a wide variety of user desires and is met with varying success. * Balancing quality hunting opportunities with ease of access is difficult. * One of the biggest keys to a successful program is having the personnel/capacity to effectively work with landowners on a broad scale. * Access-based funding is limited, so effectively utilizing habitat-based funding is extremely important.
Program Size

Minimum Property Size: 75 acres

Acres Enrolled: 1,237,000

Access Sites (rights of way) Established: n/a

Number of Hunters Participating: unknown

Number of Landowners Participating: 622

Other Program Size Information: out of the 1,237,000 acres in the program, 517,000 are in Feel Free to Hunt, 577,000 in Hunt by Written Permission, 16,000 in Register to Hunt, and 126,000 are in the Landowner Hunting Permit program.


Cost Type: Annual cost

Program cost: 600,000