|Changes coming to open fields and waters program|
Even though the Conservation Reserve Program-Management Access Program (CRP-MAP) name is going away, the public access it provides to private hunting land is not, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
CRP-MAP is merging into the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) program in 2011, bringing together two public access programs into one streamlined effort.
Beginning in January, landowners may call their nearest Game and Parks office to find out how they may take advantage of several new opportunities.
Some of those opportunities include:
• Increased rates for CRP land – OFW will offer as much as $10 per acre.
• Focus on woodlands along rivers – These areas will provide quality hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer and turkey, so a new rate of up to $15 per acre has been established.
• Signing bonus – There is a one-time signing bonus for contracts of five years or longer. The bonus will equal 25 percent of the annual payment amount, and it would be paid after the contract is signed.
• Spring turkey rate – Landowners who allow access only for spring turkey hunting will get a rate equal to 25 percent of the regular annual payment.
• Ice fishing rate – Landowners who allow access only for ice fishing from December through February will get a rate equal to 25 percent of the regular annual payment.
“Open Fields and Waters is a great way for landowners to earn extra income and help continue our state’s heritage of hunting and fishing,” said Game and Parks Ag Program Manager Tim McCoy. “We’ve also improved the program by increasing payments and flexibility for participants.”
OFW has been well received by participating landowners. Several of them have reported seeing an increased number of hunters on their property with no problems resulting from allowing public access.
OFW was created in 2009 to expand hunter and angler access to private lands that provided additional opportunities beyond CRP-MAP, which focused on upland game.
In 2010, OFW had 47,553 acres of land for hunting, and fishing access to 406 acres of ponds and lakes and 47 miles of stream. CRP-MAP provided access to 148,586 acres of land.
The combined programs include participation by more than 600 landowners statewide.
All enrolled lands and waters are published in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting/programs/CRP/atlas.asp\).