LINCOLN, Neb. – Private landowners have until June 23 to enroll their land in Open Fields and Waters, a voluntary program in which they can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties.
Landowners earn annual, per-acre payments of up to $15, depending on habitat type and location. Additional financial incentives may be available for habitat improvements on enrolled acres.
Game and Parks is seeking to add Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, fields; Wetland Reserve Program easements; grasslands; woodlands; and fishing access. All properties offering high-quality hunting or fishing opportunities will be considered.
Participating landowners are afforded liability protection through the Nebraska Recreational Liability Act. Game and Parks regularly patrols properties and marks boundaries with Open Fields and Waters signs.
Private landowners interested in enrolling should contact a biologist at their nearest Game and Parks district office or service center; find contact information at OutdoorNebraska.org/Locations.
Since 2016, more than 138,000 acres have been added to Open Fields and Waters, and current statewide enrollment is at an all-time high. More than 850 private landowners participated in the program in 2020-21, and provided walk-in hunting and fishing opportunities across 372,000-plus land acres, more than 500 acres of ponds and lakes and more than 45 stream miles.
In 2020, Game and Parks received a three-year, Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Improvement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This grant provides $1 million per year and will allow for the continued expansion of this program over the next few years.
Game and Parks developed Open Fields and Waters in 2009 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.