Outdoor notes: LWCF, RTP grant awards approved by commissioners
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved grant awards for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program and the Recreational Trails Program at its meeting Jan. 19 in Lincoln.
Commissioners approved the following grant awards, totaling more than $1.4 million, for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Stateside Assistance Program:
- Bowman Lake near Loup City, $208,657.90 for a new hike and bike trail;
- Chadron, $140,000 for new pickleball courts and a playground replacement;
- Lincoln, $600,000 for playground replacements at several parks;
- Ralston, $100,715 for new benches, bike rack and basketball court, and replacement of playground and picnic tables;
- Sutherland, $114,722.46 for a new multi-use court and playground;
- Alliance, $78,188.50 for a playground replacement; and
- Emerson, $175,000 for a pool rehabilitation and restroom refurbishment.
Funding from the LWCF comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior and federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Commissioners also approved the following recreational trail projects for federal funding through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP):
- Hickman, $130,216.80 to build the Scott’s Creek Trail, a 1,250-foot-long, 10-foot-wide concrete trail that extends an existing trail;
- Cedar Creek, $250,000 to build the Fitness Zone Trail, a 4,400-foot-long concrete trail to promote health and wellness;
- Curtis, $250,000 to refurbish approximately 1.2 miles of the Curtis Walking Trail by replacing deteriorating asphalt with an 8-foot-wide concrete loop trail near the golf course;
- Creighton, $250,000 to build a non-motorized, mile-long paved Creighton Community Park Walking Trail that is no less than 8 feet wide to link different park amenities;
- North Platte, $250,000 to build the Iron Horse Park Trail, which includes overlaying the existing north side 8-foot-wide by 2,528-foot-long asphalt trail with 2 inches of recycled material pavement, building an 8-foot-wide by 512-foot-long recycled material pavement over rock aggregate trail on the east, and creating a south-side trail linkage with a 10-foot-wide by 100-foot-long boardwalk and 283 feet of additional recycled pavement/aggregate trail to meet an existing sidewalk; and
- Hastings, $250,000 to build Phase 4A of the Pioneer Spirit Trail, an 18,321-foot-long concrete trail that will vary in width from eight to 10 feet.
Funding from the RTP comes from the Federal Highway Administration and is made possible by a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax paid by users of off-road recreational vehicles.
Also, the commissioners approved staff recommendations to:
- amend wildlife regulations to allow up to six people to apply on one application for certain big game draw permits, allow for internet and telephone checking of deer harvested during the November firearm season as an option to check stations, and clarify it is illegal to possess or sell, due to recent statute changes, any badger, bobcat, gray fox, long-tailed weasel, mink, opossum, raccoon, red fox, or skunk without a valid fur harvest permit.
- amend wildlife regulations to allow for elk hunting on the Clear Creek Wildlife Management Refuge Area portion until the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving and restrict weapons allowed to be used at Bur Oak WMA in Seward County.
The commissioners set the dates for their April meeting to April 24-25 at Ponca State Park.
The following reports were presented to the commissioners:
- Summary of 2023 efforts to minimize depredation issues
- Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation (of hunters, anglers, boaters, park guests and shooting sports participants) progress report and summary of 2023 R3 Summit
- National Archery in the Schools Program update
- Salt Creek tiger beetle reintroduction efforts
- Big game harvest
Two volunteer hunter education instructors were honored at the meeting. Gary Brunberg of Omaha received the Heritage Instructor Award and Kevin Hennecke of Adams received a 30-year service award.
The commissioners elected their officers for 2024 as follows: Chairman, Doug Zingula, Sidney; Vice Chairman, John Hoggatt, Kearney; and 2nd Vice Chairman, Donna Kush, Omaha.
Commissioners approve changes to big game permit application periods
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved changes to big game permit application periods at its meeting Jan. 19 in Lincoln.
The approved wildlife regulation changes will simplify the application and purchasing process for deer, elk and antelope permits by collapsing eight purchasing periods to four and harmonizing elk and antelope landowner permit application periods. The changes also will add new nonresident deer draw units.
Once approved by the offices of the attorney general and governor, the regulation changes would look like this:
Landowner Applications – Monday closest to May 21 through the Friday closest to June 1. Application period for landowner elk and antelope draw permits.
General Applications – First Monday in June through the closest Friday to June 15. Application period for general deer, antelope and elk permits. All general and landowner draw results will be available to the Friday closest to June 22.
Resident Permit Purchase Period – Starts on the Wednesday closest to July 11. For residents purchasing elk, deer, and antelope permits, including those undrawn from the General Applications Period. For resident landowners to begin purchasing any limited landowner antelope and elk permits.
Nonresident Permit Purchase Period – Starts on the Wednesday closest to July 25. It is the beginning of the buy period for nonresidents. For nonresident landowners to purchase any limited landowner antelope and elk permits.
Remaining Permit Purchase Period – Starts on the first Wednesday in August. For all remaining permits from previous periods (forfeited permits would move to this period). For all remaining limited landowner permits to be sold to eligible landowners.
All application and permit sales periods begin at 10 a.m. Central time.
Successful applicants in the general and landowner draw must complete their purchase by the Monday closest to July 9, with undrawn permits going to Resident Permit Purchase Period and Nonresident Permit Purchase Period, and any forfeited permits going to Remaining Permit Purchase Period.
Mule Deer Conservation Area permits are renamed to include the name of the unit and “any deer.” The following nonresident “any deer” units are added to the draw: Buffalo, Sandhills, Upper Platte, Plains, Calamus West, Republican, Loup West, Archery and Muzzleloader. Pine Ridge is removed from the resident draw.
Support Nebraska wildlife conservation this tax season
Nebraskans receiving an income tax refund this year have an opportunity to support wildlife and habitat conservation.
On Line 47 of the Nebraska state income tax form, 1040N, individuals may donate $1 or more of their tax refund to the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund, which is used to help several hundred species in Nebraska that are rare, endangered or threatened.
Tax refund donations have benefited native wildlife, fish, and plants over the years, including the Blanding’s turtle, swift fox, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, songbirds, blowout penstemon and at-risk pollinators like monarch butterflies and bumble bees. Donations are used to monitor and maintain and improve habitat for these and many other fish and wildlife species, as well as to provide wildlife viewing and other educational opportunities for Nebraskans. Additional information is available at NebraskaWildlifeFund.com.
For taxpayers not entitled to a state tax refund, contributions can be made at NebraskaWildlifeFund.com or by mail to: Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, P.O. Box 30370, 2200 N. 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503.
Nonresident Nebraska turkey permits sold out
No more 2024 Nebraska spring turkey hunting permits are available to nonresidents. The quota of 10,000 permits has sold out, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Permits were available for purchase by nonresidents beginning Jan. 8, 2024. The last permit of the quota was purchased Jan. 25.
This is the second year for the 10,000-permit quota for nonresidents. In 2023 the permit sold out on March 24.
The fall turkey season permits will go on sale Aug. 12 at 1 p.m. Central time.
For more information on turkey hunting, read the 2024 Turkey Guide at OutdoorNebraska.gov.