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Landowners can enroll in Nebraska Open Fields and Waters for 2010

From the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

-- The Open Fields and Waters program began offering hunting and fishing access opportunities this fall, and Nebraskans have responded. Hunters have begun taking advantage of the new program.

"Our first big spike in use was especially noticeable during the November firearm deer season," said Kirk Nelson, an assistant director with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. "It seemed like there were always people using the sites.”

Enrollment is open to landowners who wish to enroll for 2010. “We expect a lot more interest this year since landowners have had a chance to talk about the merits of the program," Nelson said. "These kinds of programs always seem to gain traction in the second year.”

Open Fields and Waters pays landowners who allow walk-in hunting and fishing access to their enrolled property. The program complements Conservation Reserve Program-Management Access Program (CRP-MAP). While the focus of CRP-MAP is upland game, Open Fields and Waters targets habitat for deer and turkey hunting and also opens streams, ponds and lakes to public fishing access.

Open Fields and Waters began as a two-year pilot program this fall  with contracts providing access on enrolled acres from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31.

There are 37,242 acres available for public hunting and fishing access, including 371 acres of ponds and lakes and 38 miles of stream. Enrolled acres are published in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, which also includes other public areas, including CRP-MAP. Enrollment in CRP-MAP is also open at this time through Commission district offices.

Landowners interested in the program should contact a Commission district office at their earliest convenience to ensure a place in the program.

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