The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is awarding more than $2 million to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to encourage private landowners to allow public access to their land for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-dependent recreation. Illinois was 1 of 27 states that will receive awards through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). IDNR’s Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP) was developed in 2011 from its first VPA-HIP grant and has continued to expand as demand and popularity of the program increases with private landowners and outdoor enthusiasts IRAP will use grant funds to lease additional properties near urban areas in Illinois and those enrolled in NRCS’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, which offers Wetland Reserve Easement options. New and expanded activities such as youth shotgun deer hunting and archery deer hunter days also will be added. IRAP currently leases approximately 22,000 acres in 49 counties for turkey, deer, waterfowl, squirrel, rabbit, pheasant and quail hunting, and fishing. More than 12,500 acres have been enhanced through various habitat improvement projects on leased these acres. More information on the IRAP program can be found at https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/conservation/IRAP or contact staff at DNR.IRAP@illinos.gov .