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Improved camping tops list of west-central Nebraska park investments

New New playground equipment at Johnson Lake State Recreation Area's main campground was installed in 2020.
New playground equipment at Johnson Lake State Recreation Area’s main campground was installed in 2020. The equipment was funded 100% by private donations to the Johnson Lake Improvement Fund held with the Lexington Community Foundation. | Julie Geiser, NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Improvements to west-central Nebraska state recreation areas are giving park guests more areas to camp, enjoy and recreate.

Last year, 64 basic campsites were designated and developed for improved user experience at the popular campground at Lake Maloney’s outlet, with picnic tables and grills installed at each site. A new fire pit area also was completed as an Eagle Scout project.

Sutherland Reservoir received 23 new, modern camping pads with 20-, 30-, and 50-amp service and six basic campsites at the West Shore Area at the inlet. This new campground should be ready for use this season. A new vault toilet with accessible parking is slated to be installed at the West Shore boat ramp. The projects, worth about $140,000, are supported by the Capital Maintenance Fund, implemented by the Nebraska Legislature in 2016.

At Medicine Creek State Recreation Area, repairs to the existing retaining wall at Trail 4’s Shady Bay campground swim beach area were completed last year. The retaining wall, which serves as a shoreline protection feature, was severely damaged from years of wave-action erosion and posed a safety hazard. A new day-use and shoreline access area also was created at Trail 4½, a spur off Trail 4 leading to the boat ramp. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Park Cash Funds made the improvements possible.

At Shady Bay Campground in 2019, 33 electric campsites were upgraded with new 20/30/50 amp pedestals; four new water hydrants and waterlines were installed; and 20 paved campsite pads were extended as part of this project. The $80,000 project was a 50/50 cost share between the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation and Game and Parks. The Bureau of Reclamation owns Harry Strunk Lake, more commonly known as Medicine Creek, but the recreation area is managed by Game and Parks.

Other improvements to state recreation areas include:

  • a new boat dock at Medicine Creek State Recreation Area Trail 1 was completed in 2018;
  • a new boat dock at Gallagher Canyon SRA will be installed this spring, and the existing boat dock will be relocated to Sutherland SRA’s West Shore boat ramp, which previously has not had a boat dock, when resources allow.
  • new playground equipment at the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area main campground; completed in 2020, the $41,000 project was funded completely by private donations to the Johnson Lake Improvement Fund held with the Lexington Community Foundation.
  • a reinforced and repaired inlet area at Johnson Lake, where 130 tons of rock were added to the jetty in 2020; an additional 60 tons will be added in 2021. Money from the Berggren Memorial funded the repairs; and
  • a new kayak launch and dock were installed in 2019 at Bossung Lake, a subsidiary of Johnson Lake, funded by Park Cash dollars.

For more information on completed and ongoing park improvement projects, visit outdoornebraska.org/parksprojects.

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