LINCOLN, Neb. – 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.