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Extra incentives available for landowners on CRP

CHADRON, Neb. — Nebraska Panhandle agriculture producers participating in the Conservation Reserve Program may be eligible to earn extra income by helping the region’s pheasant population and other wildlife.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is offering bonus incentives to CRP participants within certain areas of the Panhandle — locations designated as Pheasant Opportunity Areas in the agency’s Berggren Plan to improve hunting opportunities for the popular game bird.

Incentives are available for landowners who are enrolling, re-enrolling or are required to conduct management on their existing CRP lands. The incentives are in addition to the cost-share provided by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency through CRP.

Within the Pheasant Opportunity Areas, landowners have two funding options.

Those who sign a 5-year hunting access agreement through the Open Fields and Waters program are eligible to receive up to $40 per acre. Landowners will receive the habitat incentive plus a payment of up to $10 per acre for the life of the agreement.

Landowners who provide public access are afforded protection from liability through the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act.

The other option, which provides up to $25 per acre, is available to landowners who are not interested in providing hunting access on their lands.

To be eligible for this incentive, the property must be within 1 mile of lands open for hunting. Included are sites enrolled in the Open Fields and Waters program, state wildlife management areas or U.S. Forest Service properties.

With the incentives, landowners receive consultation for a site-specific wildlife habitat plan, said Shelley Steffl, Game and Parks private lands biologist.

“We may ask that you add native grasses and forbs to the property. If you have a stand of cool season grasses, perhaps you add a herbicide treatment to help set back the grasses and allow for better establishment of those plantings,” she said. “In providing these incentives, we hope to help landowners offset the upfront costs necessary to establish or maintain their CRP while helping to provide quality habitat for wildlife.”

To find a map of the Pheasant Opportunity Areas and other information, visit outdoornebraska.gov/pheasantplan. Landowners can get more information and enroll by contacting Game and Parks biologists Katherine Crawley in Sidney at 308-249-2055 or Steffl in Chadron at 308-430-3977.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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