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New prohibition on alcohol possession focuses on making Lake McConaughy safer, more family-friendly

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, working in collaboration with Ogallala and Keith County area partners, will implement actions designed to make the Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas safer and more family-friendly destinations by enhancing recreational facilities and prohibiting the possession of alcohol.

The new regulation, which now bans the possession and consumption of alcohol at the two state recreation areas, officially went into effect June 9.

Management plans also call for increased law enforcement presence and operational efforts to better manage large crowds and help improve recreational experiences for park guests and the safety of first responders. The regulation can be viewed in detail at sos.nebraska.gov.

The changes come after Nebraska’s largest lake saw record visitation in 2018 and 2019, stressing both park infrastructure and resources and local public safety resources, and hindering the commission’s ability to provide quality guest services. In response, Game and Parks partnered with Keith County Commissioners, local public safety officials and the public to find solutions that would create higher quality experiences for all.

Exceptions to the new regulation include areas operating under a lease agreement with Game and Parks, or for those traveling directly to or from a private lease area such as a cabin.

Staff will continue to work with a Keith County advisory committee on future opportunities for park improvements at the two areas as part of a 20-year master plan for the lakes adopted in October 2016.

“We’re working proactively to upgrade these high-use parks to enhance the overall quality of our visitors’ experiences,” said Jim Swenson, parks administrator. “Lake McConaughy remains one of the top tourist destinations in Nebraska, and we want our guests to have safe, quality experiences to they can create memories for years to come.”

To learn more about the changes, visit outdoornebraska.org/lakemcconaughy.

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