February 22, 2021

Nebraska: Let the Commission Do Its Job!

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

As readers may have noticed, Nebraska has recently been a battleground for legislation seeking to undermine the ability of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) to do its job. For the Cornhusker State’s 422,074 paid hunting and fishing license holders, these bills pose a threat not only to the state agency, but to the fish and wildlife resources that the agency manages on their behalf. Most recently, new attacks on NGPC in the form of Legislative Bills 222 (LB 222) and 468 (LB 468) were heard in the Legislature’s Revenue and Natural Resources Committees, respectively.

LB 222 sought to amend the payments in lieu of taxes that NGPC pays annually. These payments, designed to offset foregone personal property tax revenue on lands owned by the state agency, do provide important revenue to the state and local governments that rely on property tax revenue. However, LB 222 sought to unreasonably increase these payments, unnecessarily diverting critical resources away from resource management efforts. 

LB 468 would require NGPC to compensate landowners for property damage caused by game animals. Besides the challenges associated with determining which species (game vs. non-game) caused the damage, this bill, like LB 222, would divert critical resources that NGPC has already devoted to other conservation and resource management efforts. Further, it completely overlooks the programs that NGPC already has in place to address issues with property damage caused by game species. One such program seeks to connect hunters with property owners reporting damages, thereby generating new opportunities for hunters while addressing property-specific management goals.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted letters of opposition for both LB 222 and LB 468. Rather than seeking ways to undermine the authority and financial resources of the state’s fish and wildlife management agency, which could inadvertently impact our opportunities to hunt and fish, legislators are encouraged to work with their agency – which employs trained professionals best equipped to make wildlife management decisions – to address their resource management concerns. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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