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Improvements completed at Whitney Lake boat launch

Boat ramp expansion
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees put finishing touches on the expansion to the boat ramp at Whitney Lake. (NGPC)

CHADRON, Neb. — Boaters at Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area should have an easier time getting on and off the water thanks to improvements at the lake’s launching site.

The Whitney Lake Fishing Club collaborated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to widen the lake’s 150-foot concrete boat ramp and replace its dilapidated dock with a new model.

Wheels on dock
Wheels, welded to the new dock by commission biologist Rick Arnold, make it easier to move up and down the new concrete ramp as water levels fluctuate at Whitney Lake. (NGPC)

Because of Whitney Lake’s role as an irrigation reservoir, the seasonal rise and fall of its water level had long posed problems for the old dock. The new weather-resistant model, with heavy-duty steel wheels welded to its undercarriage, is designed to be better than the old dock for repositioning during fluctuating water levels and removal for winter. The new size of the ramp, about 1½ times wider than its previous measurement, will allow the dock to move up and down concrete instead of becoming mired in mud.

The fishing club raised most of the money for the project from its ice fishing tournaments in 2016 and 2017, which most recently attracted as many as 350 participants. The Commission purchased the boat dock and provided labor for ramp construction and dock installation. Steve Masek, Commission conservation technician, and Scott Gooder, fishing club member, coordinated the project and D.J. Utter, Commission facility maintenance leader, supervised the concrete work.

In another effort to improve visitors’ experiences at the lake, the Commission and the Whitney Irrigation District have entered a collaborative agreement to improve maintenance of the access road to the launch area. In addition, possible improvements to the drainage system along the road also are being discussed with the Dawes County Road Department.

Ice fishing tournament
More than 350 participants helped make last winter’s ice fishing tournament at Whitney Lake a fund-raising success for improvements at the lake’s boat access area. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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