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Commission Holds Meeting at Lake McConaughy

LINCOLN – Nebraska’s second largest tourism attraction, Lake McConaughy, was the location of the May 15 Nebraska Game and Parks Commission meeting. The meeting took place at the Visitor and Interpretive Center.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO) reported on its work with partners to conserve birds in Nebraska and across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. RMBO collaborates with Game and Parks through Nebraska Prairie Partners. Current work on mountain plovers, a shorebird of national concern and listed as threatened in Nebraska, includes nest marking and surveying 200,000 acres of private cropland to monitor plover hatching and movement.

RMBO is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve birds and their habitats. It is the second largest breeding bird monitoring program in the nation. Its name will change to the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies in coming weeks.

In other business, former Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioner Tom Plummer and Chad Adams of Ogallala gave a presentation on the possible expansion of the Lake McConaughy Visitor and Water Interpretive Center. They said they would like to see an additional 1,900 square feet of meeting space at the center. Efforts have begun to raise funds through area nonprofit organizations.

In addition, Travis Haggard of Keith County Area Development announced that the Lake Ogallala Outdoor Expo, scheduled for June, has been postponed because of a lack of a title sponsor. Haggard and Game and Parks will continue to collaborate to schedule the event in 2016.

The National Park Service provided a presentation on federal water rights. They described the similarities and differences between a federal water right and a state in-stream flow right, and how those could conserve flows on the Niobrara River.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Fisheries Division gave a report on the history of fisheries management at Lake McConaughy, describing the fishery as ever-changing. Called one the of state’s most important fisheries, McConaughy is the lake where near-state record class walleye and wipers are currently being caught.

The next meeting is July 16 in Sidney.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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