LINCOLN, Neb. – Private landowners have until June 19 to enroll their land in the Open Fields and Waters Program, in which they can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties.
Landowners with property offering hunting or fishing potential may be offered annual, per-acre payments from 50 cents to $15, depending on habitat type and location. Additional financial incentives may be possible to enhance the habitat on enrolled acres. Participating landowners are afforded protection through the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act, and properties are regularly patrolled by conservation officers. Once enrolled, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists post boundary signs and properties will appear in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas.
In 2009, Game and Parks initiated the Open Fields and Waters in an effort to increase public access opportunities on private lands. Nebraska is more than 97 percent privately owned, and obtaining access to private lands continues to be one of the major challenges facing hunters, anglers, and outdoor users.
Due to a growing demand for more places to hunt, trap and fish, the program has grown substantially in recent years. Since 2016, enrollment has increased by over 112,000 acres, a 48% increase. Currently, there are 750-plus participating landowners in Nebraska who provide public access opportunities on over 346,000 land acres, 42 ponds/lakes, and 44 stream miles. Game and Parks and its partners hope to expand the program in coming years. This will be aided by a recent $3 million grant award through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
For more details and a list of frequently asked questions, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/OFW. Private landowners interested in enrolling should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office and ask to speak to a private lands biologist: Lincoln (402-471-5561), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940) or North Platte (308-535-8025).