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News Items, June 5, 2023

Got a couple of news items which I want to spread:

Summit Lake SRA event celebrates improvements

Celebrate the completion of recent improvement projects at Summit Lake State Recreation Area near Tekamah on June 10.

A ribbon cutting for a new playground will take place at 11 a.m. Enjoy archery, fishing and kayaking for free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with provided equipment. A fish fry is scheduled at noon; meals are $12 for adults, $8 for age 12 and under.

Aside from a new playground, there is a new, 10-mile-long equestrian trail encircling the reservoir, and the fishery was improved through a major project.

In 2022, in the 25th year of the Nebraska Aquatic Habitat Program, an aquatic habitat and angler access project was completed at the reservoir. The sediment basins were excavated on the south and west ends to restore them to their original capacity and prevent sediment from entering the main reservoir. Angler jetties and the boat ramp also were improved and stabilized, and a kayak launch site was developed. The program is funded by the Aquatic Habitat Stamp, which is included in the cost of a fishing permit.

A Nebraska park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering the park.


Enroll lands in Open Fields and Waters to allow public access

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is looking to provide additional hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands through its Open Fields and Waters Program.

Landowners willing to allow public, walk-in access for hunting or fishing can receive annual, per-acre payments through the program. Participating landowners are afforded liability protection through the Nebraska Recreational Liability Act. Additional financial incentives often are available for habitat improvements, such as Conservation Reserve Program enrollment or management upgrades.

Game and Parks primarily is seeking to add the following types of enrollments, but all properties offering high-quality hunting or fishing opportunities will be considered:

Conservation Reserve Program – CRP fields provide excellent hunting opportunities for upland game birds and acres in any part of the state will be considered. Landowners can receive up to $20 per acre for CRP, depending upon location and habitat quality.

Wetland Reserve Program easements – Landowners who have Wetland Reserve Program easements can earn up to $15 per acre for accessible portions of WRP easements with suitable habitats.

Grasslands – High-quality grassland habitat that provides mixed-bag hunting opportunities for upland game birds and big game species are being sought statewide. Properties in the Sandhills supporting prairie grouse, mule deer and/or antelope are a priority, along with sites in south-central and southeastern Nebraska that offer quail and/or white-tailed deer hunting opportunities.

Woodlands – Heavily timbered areas along riparian corridors and those with canyon-like topography are being pursued in many areas. Rates for high-quality woodlands range from $3 to $25 per acre, depending on habitat quality and location.

Fishing access – Ponds, lakes, warm-water streams or rivers and cool-water streams with trout are potential targets. Payment rates are per surface acre on lakes and ponds and per stream mile on streams or rivers.

For more information about Open Fields and Waters, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov and search “Open Fields and Waters.” Interested landowners should contact a biologist at their nearest Game and Parks district office or service center (OutdoorNebraska.gov, scroll to Locations tab at the bottom).

Since 2016, more than 137,000 acres have been added to Open Fields and Waters with more than 850 private landowners participating in the program in 2022-23. Those landowners provided walk-in hunting and fishing opportunities across 372,000-plus land acres, more than 500 acres of ponds and lakes and more than 41 stream miles.

Funding for the Open Fields and Waters Program primarily is provided by a grant obtained through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access – Habitat Incentive Program and Pittman-Robertson funds (Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Act). In addition, Game and Parks uses funds from Habitat Stamp and hunting license sales, and contributions from partners to fund the program and increase opportunities for hunting, trapping and fishing on Nebraska’s private lands.


We have not had a lot of fishing waters entered in the Open Fields/Open Waters program, but we have had a few.  Some of those that have been entered are excellent resources that have provided some great fishing opportunities.  I have dried a few off on some of those properties.  A huge THANK YOU to all land owners who enroll property in this program!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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