LINCOLN – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved the Lake McConaughy/Lake Ogallala Master Plan at its meeting Oct. 21 at Ponca State Park (SP).
The plan will serve as a road map for future development and desired conditions at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas (SRA) for the next 20 years. Among the plans goals are to provide quality memorable experiences for users through diverse recreational opportunities, to increase visitation during non-peak periods, and to protect threatened and endangered species. See the plan at OutdoorNebraska.gov/LakeMcConaughyPlan.
Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala SRAs are two of Nebraska’s most popular tourist attractions. Visitors come from across Nebraska and beyond to boat, fish, swim and camp, among other outdoor pursuits. These lakes also are a haven for wildlife. Two threatened and endangered species nest at the lakes — the interior least tern and the piping plover — and many other species use the lakes and the surrounding land.
The lakes are owned by the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (CNPPID). Recreation on the lakes is managed by the Commission through a lease with CNPPID. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works in partnership with the Commission and CNPPID to make sure that the threatened and endangered species that use the lake are conserved. The Lake McConaughy area provides great recreational value to Nebraska, and this plan will incrementally guide future development to meet the needs for visitors.
In other business, the Commission amended park regulations to reflect statutory changes to resident vehicle entry permit fees, and amended park regulations to create a separate vehicle entry fee for nonresidents. The new resident permit fees are $30 for an annual, $6 for a daily, and $15 for a duplicate annual. The permit fees for vehicles not registered and licensed in Nebraska are $45 for an annual, $8 for a daily, and $22.50 for a duplicate annual. All of these park entry fees are scheduled to become effective on Jan. 1, 2017.
In addition, the Commission:
— changed regulations regarding updates of game breeding and controlled shooting area permit language and special depredation order language;
— authorized one bighorn sheep auction permit and one bighorn sheep lottery permit for 2017;
— changed regulations regarding camping restrictions at some wildlife management areas;
— approved an acquisition of 57.37 acres of land adjacent to Platte River SP in Cass County and designated it as an addition to the park;
— changed the fee schedule for the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln, lowering some firearm range fees and annual passes and creating monthly passes to accommodate new and beginning shooters;
— heard a report from Keith Cline on special hunting opportunities for people with special needs;
— heard a staff update on big game hunting seasons; and
— approved its 2017 meeting schedule as follows: Jan. 19-20, Lincoln; March 16-17, Grand Island; April 20-21, Norfolk; June 21-22, Scottsbluff; Aug. 16-17, North Platte; and Oct. 19-20, Omaha.
The Commission rejected:
— a staff recommendation to change the start of shooting hours for upland game and webless migratory birds (rail, snipe, woodcock, dove, grouse, pheasant, quail, partridge, cottontail and squirrel) from 30 minutes before sunrise to sunrise; and
— a staff recommendation to change Game Breeding and Controlled Shooting Areas regulations regarding updating language on buying and selling birds, extending the hunting season, extending the date for annual paperwork to be submitted, and the change in shooting hours for Controlled Shooting Areas.