BROKEN BOW – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission held their October commissioner’s meeting at the Broken Bow Public Library on Friday, October 21 at 8 a.m. in order to get everyone on the same page for the remainder of 2022 and deep into 2023.
The focus of the meeting was the adjustment and ratification of regulations for boating, sport fishing, and game hunting seasons. Boating Law Administrator Jeff Clauson addressed equipment standards, boat capacities, and boating regulations regarding public and non-public bodies of water.
Safety regulations were updated to reflect U.S. Coast Guard standards, which primarily dealt with verbiage. As far as non-public bodies of water, Clauson said that the reevaluation of the code will in effect provide more freedoms for boaters.
“We’ve moved a significant number of waters to different classifications,” he said, “but in all cases, those have moved to less restrictive means except for Conestoga Lake.”
Arnold Lake, Cozad WMA, Lake Helen, and Plum Creek Canyon Reservoir were only a handful of lakes affected by public code revisions, which, going forward, would allow vessels to operate at a speed greater than 5 miles per hour.
The commission also heard proposed revisions to Fisheries Regulations, which had not been updated since 2009. Fisheries Division Administrator Dean Rosenthal presented a specific measure designed to make the sport and its rivers more accessible to all Nebraskans.
Forms for “helper permits,” that is, permits for those assisting anglers with physical or developmental disabilities, once only available through Game and Parks’ headquarters in Lincoln, will be made available online, and the process drastically simplified. Rosenthal said the proposed change has been extremely well-received among the nearly 400 anglers’ assistants who use the permit, particularly those with autism.
“Fishing is something that they truly enjoy, and this is something that means a lot to them.”
Rosenthal also went on to propose changes in sport fishing itself through alterations in bag, possession and length limits. In Custer County specifically, a minimum length for black bass was set at 21 inches for Ansley Lake, while Victoria Springs SRA had the limit lifted.
As far as big game season alterations, the biggest proposed change had to do with antelope season. Pine Ridge Mule Deer Conservation Area will become a draw unit under the new proposal. Alicia Hardin, Wildlife Division Administrator, explained that the proposed change is due to permit numbers during antelope season.
“As you know, we have a very limited amount of permits for non-residents, and so they sell out immediately. So folks who can’t get those permits would like the option to select a preference point and have an opportunity in upcoming years to get into that draw.”
Additionally, Hardin proposed clarifying the language in regards to how and when hunters should cancel their turkey permits; 48 hours after harvest is the newly-proposed time frame for hunters to check in their birds.
All changes were unanimously approved by the board, and tentative meeting dates and locations for next year’s meetings were set, with the first of 2023 slated for January 19 and 20 in Lincoln.