Landowners can earn income in Open Fields and Waters Program

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission biologists will be actively enrolling private landowners in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) Program this month.

Through the OFW program, landowners can earn additional income for allowing walk-in hunting or fishing access on their properties. With roughly 97 percent of Nebraska’s land-base in private ownership, finding places to recreate continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing hunters and anglers. 

OFW helps ensure Nebraska’s rich outdoor heritage is carried forward by expanding public hunting and fishing opportunities on private lands throughout the state. In 2016, Game and Parks biologists enrolled more than 230,000 acres in the program.

Landowners who participate in OFW receive annual, per-acre payments for allowing walk-in hunting and/or fishing access on their properties. 

Payment rates vary from 50 cents to $15 per acre, depending on habitat type and location. Game and Parks biologists post boundary signs and enrolled property locations are published annually in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which is available at outdoornebraska.gov/publicaccessatlas/. 

Participating landowners also receive protection from liability under the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act.

Increasing public hunting access is a primary objective outlined in the Berggren Plan, Game and Parks’ five-year initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. New enrollments in OWF will be targeted within the eight priority areas identified in the plan.

Private lands providing hunting opportunities for upland gamebirds are preferred, including undisturbed grasslands and draws, tall stubble fields and lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Additional financial incentives are also available to improve habitat on OFW properties.

Private landowners interested in enrolling their land in OWF should contact their nearest Game and Parks district office: Lincoln (402-471-0641), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940), or North Platte (308-535-8025).

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