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Grant will help expand public access opportunities on Nebraska’s private lands

LINCOLN, Neb. – Public access opportunities for hunting and fishing on private lands will be expanded thanks to a grant awarded to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The $3 million grant was awarded through the 2020 Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP).

In Nebraska, VPA-HIP funding, along with matching funds from the Pittman-Robertson Act (federal excise tax on guns and ammunition), habitat stamp sales, and contributions from other conservation organizations, are used to fund the Open Fields and Waters Program. This program provides financial incentives to private landowners willing to allow public, walk-in access for hunting, trapping and fishing.

“Over 97% of Nebraska is privately-owned and obtaining access to private lands is considered one of the primary challenges faced by today’s hunters and anglers,” said John Laux, Game and Parks’ upland habitat and access program manager.

Landowner participation and enrollment in Open Fields and Waters have grown substantially in recent years, with more than 112,000 acres added since 2016. In 2019-2020, more than 750 landowners participated in the program statewide, providing public access on more than 346,000 land acres, 42 ponds and lakes, and more than 44 stream miles.

“This VPA-HIP award will allow Game and Parks to continue to expand Open Fields and Waters and provide more places in the state for hunters and anglers to recreate,” Laux said. “This funding also will be used to enhance wildlife habitat on enrolled properties.”

The VPA-HIP is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and was authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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