LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists are seeking private landowners interested in enrolling in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program this spring.
Through OFW, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties. With more than 97 percent of Nebraska’s land base in private ownership, obtaining access to private lands continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing today’s hunters and anglers. In 2017, more than 700 private landowners participated in OFW, opening up more than 254,000 land acres, 600 acres of ponds/lakes, and 41 miles of streams to public access across the state.
Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual per-acre payments. They also are afforded protection from liability under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act. Payment rates vary from 50 cents to $15 per acre, depending on habitat type and property location. Additional incentives are available to help create and improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands. Game and Parks biologists post boundary signs and enrolled properties are published annually in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at OutdoorNebraska.org/PublicAccessAtlas/.
Increasing public hunting opportunities is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Parks’ five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. New OFW enrollments will be targeted within the eight priority areas identified in the plan but other properties offering high-quality habitat also will be considered. The plan may be viewed at OutdoorNebraska.org/PheasantPlan/. Game and Parks biologists added more than 25,000 acres of OFW lands within the priority areas in 2017 and hope to expand the program in 2018.
Private landowners interested in enrolling in OFW should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-0641), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940) or North Platte (308-535-8025).