By MICHAEL KRANSZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — In portions of the northern Lower Peninsula next year, farmers in need of relief from hungry deer and hunters in search of turf might mutually benefit from an expanded state land-access initiative. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initiative, called the Hunting Access Program, would open more private land to hunters in the northern Lower Peninsula with a new federal grant of nearly $1 million. Among the counties included are Alcona, Montmorency, Emmet, Cheboygan, Antrim, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Manistee, Mason, Lake and Wexford. Currently, only landowners in Southern Michigan, mid-Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula who want to be paid to open their property for hunting are eligible, said Mike Parker, the DNR biologist spearheading the program. Landowners set restrictions on the type of hunting and can earn up to $25 per acre, depending on the type of hunting allowed and habitat quality, according to DNR.