Outdoor notes: Game and Parks accepting 2018 trail grant applications

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is accepting Recreational Trail Program (RTP) grant applications for fiscal year 2018 funding.

The RTP is a grant program through the Federal Highway Administration that reimburses political subdivisions, such as communities, counties and natural resources districts, up to 80 percent of project costs for trail acquisition, development, renovation and support facilities. Applicants must have the financial means to undertake and maintain the project and all funding should be on hand.

The RTP funds are divided among three categories: motorized trails (30 percent), non-motorized trails (30 percent) and diversified or shared-use trails (40 percent).

The application materials can be downloaded at outdoornebraska.gov/grants, or contact Kirk Nelson at 402-471-5513 or kirk.nelson@nebraska.gov for an application packet. Applications must be submitted to Game and Parks and postmarked by Aug. 31, 2018.

Landowners have until June 15 to enroll in Open Fields and Waters

LINCOLN, Neb. – Private landowners have until June 15 to enroll their land in the Open Fields and Waters (OFW) 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: Lincoln (402-471-0641), Norfolk (402-370-3374), Alliance (308-763-2940) or North Platte (308-535-8025).

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