Despite the coming temporary closures at 29 Nebraska State Park areas, visitors will be allowed walk-in activities such as picnicking, bank fishing, photography, wildlife viewing, hunting and trail use from sunrise to sunset.
The park areas will be gated and/or posted a short distance from the entrance. Visitors will be able to park on the outside edges of the park area, but they will not be allowed to drive on the interior roads. Areas will be gated with a cable gate, and an additional cable may be placed around the wings of the gate so visitors cannot drive around the closure. A park permit will be required for each vehicle parking on these Nebraska Game and Parks Commission areas.
Game and Parks will temporarily close all services and vehicle access to 24 state recreation areas (SRA) and five state historical parks (SHP). Camping will not be allowed. Restrooms will be closed and trash will not be picked up, so visitors must pack out what they pack into an area. Hunting and fishing at impacted areas will be available where those activities are allowed by regulations. Hunting is not allowed within 100 yards of any improved area of a park, including facilities, buildings and campgrounds.
The reason for the closures is to redirect Game and Parks staff and resources from the closed areas in an effort to reduce the more than $30 million backlog of deferred maintenance needs and meet compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and environmental requirements. Money saved from reduced costs for things such as trash contracts, fuel and road maintenance will be transferred to buying materials for priority maintenance projects.
SRAs that will close Sept. 16 and reopen May 1, 2014 are: Blue River, Cheyenne, Conestoga, Cottonwood, Dead Timber, DLD, Keller, Long Lake, Long Pine, North Loup, Olive Creek, Oliver Reservoir, Pelican Point, Riverview Marina, Rock Creek Lake, Sandy Channel, Schramm, Sutherland, Union Pacific, Verdon, Stagecoach, Walgren, and War Axe. Vehicle access to boat ramps will remain open at Riverview, Pelican Point and Sutherland’s Hershey Beach. Alexandria SRA will close Oct. 7 and reopen May 1.
SHPs that will close Sept. 16 and reopen May 1 are: Ash Hollow, Buffalo Bill, and Fort Hartsuff. Arbor Lodge SHP will close Sept. 23 and reopen April 23, and Fort Atkinson SHP will close Oct. 7 and reopen May 1.
Game and Parks will work with interested parties, such as organizations, foundations or civic leaders, who wish to have a closed area open for special events or activities as long as those parties can provide staff and funds.
Many park areas, especially SHPs, have supporting groups in nearby communities. These groups are devoted to assisting with park development, activities or care. Individuals are encouraged to join these groups and offer fresh ideas.
Hunters Helping the Hungry to Accept Deer Donations Starting Sept. 15
Hunters may begin donating their deer to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program Sept. 15. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has contracted with meat processors that may accept the donated deer.
Hunters Helping the Hungry combines cash donations and donated deer to produce ground venison that is distributed to Nebraskans in need. Game and Parks, not hunters, pays processing costs. Processors will accept only the deer that can yield a good volume of pure ground venison.
Hunters Helping the Hungry funds will pay to process up to 300 deer this year. Participating processor quotas may be increased if additional cash and/or deer donations are received.
Hunters and nonhunters may make cash donations to help fund the program, which uses no permit or tax dollars. They may make a donation while purchasing a deer permit over the counter at a Game and Parks permitting office or at OutdoorNebraska.org. They also may mail a check made out to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with Hunters Helping the Hungry in the memo field. The checks should be sent to: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, P.O. Box 30370, Lincoln, NE 68503-0370.
The participating Hunters Helping the Hungry meat processors, subject to change, are: Amherst – Belschner Custom Meats Inc.; Bayard – Bayard Processing; Bridgeport – KDK Meats, LLC; Broken Bow – Broken Bow Pack; Diller – C & C Processing; Elwood – SteakMaster Inc.; Humphrey – Country Butcher; Johnson – Pelican’s Meat Processing; Lindsay – Melcher’s Locker; North Bend – Bob’s Custom Meats LLC; North Platte – Kelley’s Custom Pack; Oakland – Oakland Processing; Omaha – B. I. G. Meats Inc., Stoysich House of Sausage; Orleans – Harlan County Meat Processors; Oxford – Oxford Locker, Inc.; Panama – Panama Locker; Ralston – Van Fleet Meats; Table Rock – Den’s Country Meats; Ulysses – Butchery; Wahoo – Wahoo Locker.
Learn more about the program at OutdoorNebraska.org/HHH.
Conditions Generally Dry in Rainwater Basin
An aerial survey of the Rainwater Basin in south-central Nebraska on Sept. 5 revealed generally dry conditions, with the best water conditions located in southern Clay County.
“Water conditions are slightly better than last year,” said Mark Vrtiska, waterfowl program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “But there are still some portions that are very dry and will take a lot of rain to put water in them. Southern York and Fillmore counties are really lacking water.”
A full report on water conditions and initial pumping plans can be found at Outdoor Nebraska.org. Vrtiska reminds hunters that the report only provides a starting point, and scouting areas still is an important part of a successful waterfowl hunt.
Join Game and Parks for Birding at Lake McConaughy
Birders of all experience levels are invited to participate in Southwest District Birding Day with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on Sept. 12 at Lake McConaughy.
Participants will meet at the lake’s visitor center parking lot at 6 a.m. The group will observe birds around McConaughy and Lake Ogallala until 10 a.m.
Persons interested in participating should contact Game and Parks’ T.J. Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org. They should wear appropriate clothing and may bring binoculars.