- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A $1.2 million federal grant will help expand an initiative designed to provide more hunting opportunities in areas of Michigan where access is limited.

The Hunting Access Program provides financial incentives to landowners in southern Michigan and parts of the eastern Upper Peninsula who are willing to allow hunting on their property.

Such lands must consist of at least 40 acres. Payments to landowners increase with better habitat quality and the variety of hunting allowed.

The Department of Natural Resources says 15,710 acres within 135 properties are enrolled in the program. Officials hope to reach 24,000 acres on 180 properties by 2017.

Some of the grant funding also will be used to bolster wildlife habitat on 600 enrolled acres through measures such as improving grasslands and controlling invasive species.

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