LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners on Friday voted to expand the grouse-hunting season starting in 2011.
This year’s grouse season will be Sept. 1 through Jan. 31, 2012. Regulations previously called for the season to open on the Saturday nearest Sept. 15.
By making the change, Game and Parks is providing more hunting opportunity for a lightly hunted species and is aligning the dove and grouse season openers on a common date.
The board also approved a revised Focus on Pheasants plan. The plan seeks to create new focus areas and incentive programs to promote habitat improvements and to work with biologists to maximize effectiveness of habitat program delivery within those areas. Also, the plan hopes to continue researching the amount of habitat needed to establish and maintain a huntable pheasant population, and it will try to secure more pheasant habitat through U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs.
Commissioners also approved the funding of $254,383.60 for eight grants through the State Wildlife Grant (SWG) program, which addresses the needs of declining fish and wildlife populations. Game and Parks allocates part of its annual SWG funding, distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to other conservation entities on a competitive basis, with awardees required to provide a one-to-one match. The awarded projects must be deemed a priority in assisting Game and Parks in implementing the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan.
In other action, the board approved:
– six grant applications for $658,350 in federal funding from the 2011 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) apportionment. The funds will be used by Game and Parks to administer the RTP and for educational projects, for trail signage by the City of Wayne, trail construction by the City of Deshler, Game and Parks’ renovation of the Cowboy Trail near Norfolk, and renovation of the Bison Trail by the City of Lincoln.
– rankings of two 2011 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant applications totaling $90,000. Final approval would come from the National Park Service. Projects include a park renovation by the City of Bellevue and a swimming pool renovation by the Village of Hildreth.
– an easement to the Rural Healthcare Network of Nebraska at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area for designing and building a fiber optic network that will connect several hospitals and healthcare clinics and provide technology and capabilities to the hospitals and residents of rural Nebraska.
– changes to the policy and procedures of the Nebraska Hunter and Bow Hunter Education programs.
– the relocation of 100 black-tailed prairie dogs from Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge to Hutton Niobrara Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary in Rock County.
– elected Mick Jensen, Chairman; Ron Stave, Vice Chairman; and Norris Marshall, 2nd Vice Chairman.