Private landowners have until June 15 to enroll their land in the Open Fields and Waters Program. Through OFW, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting, trapping and/or fishing access on their properties.
John Laux, Upland Habitat and Access Coordinator for Nebraska Game and Parks, said OFW is a win-win for both private landowners and hunters.
“Participating landowners benefit from the extra income and our hunters and anglers (who help fund the program) have more places to go,” he said.
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 today’s hunters and anglers.
Increasing public hunting opportunities is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Park’s five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska.
“Last year, we added over 23,000 acres and hope to continue to expand the program in 2018,” said Laux.
More than 700 landowners participated in OFW in 2017, opening up over 257,000 land acres, 600 acres of ponds and lakes, and 41 miles of streams to public access across the state.
In addition to receiving annual, per-acre payments, participating landowners are also 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. 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/.
Private landowners interested in enrolling in OFW should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office including Lincoln at 402-471-0641; Norfolk at 402-370-3374; Alliance at 308-763-2940; or North Platte at 308-535-8025.