Aquatic Habitat Program

The Aquatic Habitat Program works to improve conditions for aquatic life through better management or rehabilitation of existing resources, and collaborates with partners to build new waters to make them the best they can be.

Funding for this program is provided by the purchasing of the Aquatic Habitat Stamp which is included in the price of your fishing license. This is why the program is aimed at improving habitat for fish that anglers love. Nebraska was the first state to require an Aquatic Habitat Stamp and has received national attention for its innovative program.

Habitat Rehabilitation Projects

The creation of the Aquatic Habitat Program in 1997 required a tremendous amount of preparation and planning. Some of the big questions asked early on in the process were “How will we prioritize which waters will be worked on?” and “What are the aquatic habitat problems for each location and how can they be fixed?”

The legislation that created the nation’s first Aquatic Habitat Stamp required a written plan identifying which waters were impaired and the type of work needed to restore them to productive healthy habitats. Hence our slogan: “New Life for Aging Waters.” Funding is restricted to only those waters listed on the Aquatic Habitat Plan.

Designing Fish-Friendly Reservoirs

One of the early lessons learned on in the development of the Aquatic Habitat Program is that restoring new life to ageing waters can be very expensive. It is a good investment to be involved in the design and construction of new reservoirs to ensure they incorporate features to extend their functional life span and fully support healthy fish populations for people to enjoy for generations to come.

We provide technical assistance on reservoir design and construction methods, and sometimes financial assistance to incorporate in-lake fish habitat, shoreline angling areas and boating access to these new public waters.

Example: Conestoga Reservoir

Thanks to the Aquatic Habitat Program, nearly half a million cubic yards of sediment have been removed, and angler access improvements, breakwaters and a new boat ramp and launching area were added. Excavation, basin sculpting, rock piles and root wads are great for fish, while the new breakwater and ADA piers are great for fishing.

View YouTube video series of the Conestoga Reservoir Aquatic Rehabilitation Project