The following programs are available to qualifying landowners in Nebraska:
The Conservation Reserve Program is a federal program overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) that pays a yearly rental payment in exchange for farmers removing environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and planting species that will improve environmental quality.
The Open Fields and Waters Program is a voluntary program that offers financial incentives to private landowners willing to allow walk-in access on their property for hunting, trapping, and/or fishing. Participating landowners are afforded liability protection through the Nebraska Recreation Liability Act and receive annual, per-acre payments of up to $15/acre/year (payment rates based on habitat type and location). Additional financial incentives are available to help landowners improve habitat enrolled properties. In 2021-22, over 850 landowners participated in the OFW program, providing access to over 381,000 acres of private lands, including 42 ponds/lakes, and over 42 miles of streams throughout the state (record high).
In spring 2022, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved the “Berggren Pheasant Plan 2.0” – a continuation of the agency’s comprehensive initiative aimed at improving the pheasant hunting experience in Nebraska. Berggren Plan 2.0 continues to focus efforts on restoring pheasant habitat and increasing public hunting opportunities and hopes to build on the recent successes of the original plan. From 2016-2020, over 2,400 habitat projects were completed with private landowners within the priority areas, identified in the plan, positively impacting over 216,000 acres. NGPC biologists also enrolled an additional 108,000 acres (net gain) of private lands into the Open Fields and Waters Program (OFW), effectively doubling public pheasant hunting opportunities within the priority areas. As part of the plan, financial incentives are being offered to private landowners to improve wildlife habitat and/or provide walk-in hunting access.
Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to improve wildlife habitat across the state. Eligible lands include cropland, rangeland, pastureland and odd areas. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps agricultural producers promote environmental quality and wildlife habitat as compatible goals.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission acknowledges that wildlife species periodically cause damage to agricultural crops, stored crops, fences, tree farms, and other property. Wildlife damage cannot always be prevented, but certain management practices, instituted by the landowner, may reduce or eliminate some damage problems.
Qualifying landowners in Nebraska have additional hunting opportunities for big game and small game. Please see our landowner permits page for permit specifics and qualifications.
Antlerless Hunter Database
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Antlerless Hunter Database connects hunters who wish to harvest antlerless deer with landowners who are experiencing damage issues from deer on their property. Hunters who wish to be considered for this program may sign up on the program page, and landowners may view a list of hunters interested in harvesting antlerless deer.
The Deer Exchange program allows hunters who have filled their freezers to search a database of people interested in receiving venison. Donors and recipients can register online for free.
Privately owned waters represent an appreciable portion of Nebraska’s fishable waters. This includes flowing waters (excepting the Missouri River), privately owned natural lakes, constructed lakes, sandpits and farm ponds. Nebraska’s private waters provide a substantial amount of fishing opportunity, produce quality fisheries and are important habitats for native wildlife species. Surveys indicate that roughly 25 percent of licensed anglers fish private waters, and more than 25 percent of Master Angler fish are caught from private waters. The Private Waters program provides technical and management assistance for landowners.
WILD Nebraska is an umbrella program of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that primarily delivers wildlife habitat management activities on private lands. This partnership with Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts is a key element in providing quality wildlife habitat across the state. Call your district office for more information on opportunities in your area. A list of district office locations and phone numbers is available at the link below.
View district office locations
The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project is part of a nationwide effort to address the needs of declining wildlife populations. Nebraska’s biological treasures include 60 amphibian and reptile species, 80 fish species, 400 bird species, 85 mammal species, 1,470 plant species and tens of thousands of invertebrate species. Of these, more than two dozen species of plants and animals in Nebraska are listed as threatened or endangered. The mission of the Natural Legacy Project is to refine and implement a blueprint for conserving Nebraska’s flora, fauna and natural habitats through the proactive, voluntary conservation actions.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission periodically surveys the landowners of Nebraska regarding issues related to wildlife management and issues on private land. Below are results of the most recent surveys: