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 the program, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties. With over 97 percent of Nebraska’s land-base in private ownership, obtaining access to private lands continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing hunters and anglers. In 2018, over 700 private landowners participated in OFW, opening 317,000 land acres, 600 acres of ponds/lakes, and 42 miles of streams to public access across the state.
Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual, per-acre payments and 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 will also be considered. The plan may be viewed at OutdoorNebraska.org/PheasantPlan/. In 2018, Game and Parks biologists added over 56,000 acres of OFW lands within the aforementioned priority areas and hope to expand the program once again in 2019.
Private landowners interested in enrolling in OFW should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-5561), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940), or North Platte (308-535-8025).