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Investment in outdoor recreation continues at Lake McConaughy

Anglers at Lake Ogallala can enjoy improved access as a floating fishing bridge has been installed at the northwest corner of the lake.

LINCOLN, Neb. – Visitors to Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas in 2021 will continue to see improvements to infrastructure, amenities, facilities and accessibility around the two popular reservoirs.

Projects the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has scheduled for construction in 2021 are:

• A large boating access project at Martin Bay and Cedar View has begun and will include improvements, such as new boat ramps and docks, accessible parking, a fish-cleaning station, restrooms and area lighting. The $3 million project utilizes the Commission’s Capital Maintenance Fund and various other state and federal funds. Construction has begun and will take place throughout 2021.

A new gatehouse installed at Lake McConaughy gives park guests a place to purchase permits and get answers to questions about the area.

• The Martin Bay Entrance Project will include the reconstruction of the Martin Bay entrance to Shoreline Road, with expanded stacking lanes, two new entrance booths, area lighting and signage. The estimated $1-2 million project is funded by the State Recreation Road Fund and revenues from park user fees. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

• Installation of an accessible vault latrine at the Spillway Bay Boat Ramp will cost approximately $20,000 and be funded by revenues from park user fees. Construction is expected in the fall.

• New directional and regulatory signs will be installed on Shoreline Road, Cedar View Road and Lake Ogallala Road to aid visitor navigation at the parks. The estimated cost is $20,000 and is funded by revenues from park user fees. Construction has begun and will continue throughout 2021.

• Gating systems are being installed at Sandy Beach and Arthur Bay entrances to better manage late night entry into the park areas and to collect required fees. The project is funded by revenues from park user fees and will take place into 2021.

• Design work will continue, under the State Recreation Road Fund, for improvements to the Martin Bay Area. It may include an expanded RV Dump and Fill Station, new parking areas at beach access points and overlay of existing roads not completed in the 2020 Shoreline Road Improvement Project.

These improvements are the latest in the continuation of Game and Parks’ Lake McConaughy/Lake Ogallala Master Plan, a 20-year outline of enhancements developed in concert with local stakeholders. Since its inception in 2016, more than $6 million has been invested in repairs and developments at the reservoir and recreation area, funded largely by the Commission’s Capital Maintenance Fund, park revenues, the Nebraska Department of Transportation Recreational Road Program and Keith County Visitors Committee tourism grants.

Game and Parks and local stakeholders will continue to make significant investments in infrastructure and services. By expanding recreational opportunities and providing safe, family-friendly outdoor experiences, the hope is to bring this area into the future for the next generation of park users.

Some of the improvements that have been made since 2016 at the recreation areas include:

• Overlay of most of Shoreline Road from Martin Bay to Sandy Beach.

• Constructed two wastewater treatment lagoons, one at Martin Bay and one at Lone Eagle Campground.

• Completed accessible campsites with seven at Cedar View Campground, five at Lone Eagle Campground and two at Little Thunder Campground.

• Installed new shower and restroom facilities at Martin Bay, Lake Ogallala East, Arthur Bay and Cedar View Campgrounds. Work at Cedar View and Arthur Bay locations will be completed this winter.

• Completed three new campgrounds with “basic” type campsites at Lake Ogallala West, Martin Bay and Sandy Beach, totaling nearly 170 sites, each with a picnic table and grill. Included are grass sites, gravel/rock pads, tent-only sites and group sites for multiple RVs or tents.

• Expanded the Lake McConaughy Visitor Center’s Nature Trail, bringing the distance to about one-quarter mile and installed a large pollinator plot at the same location for visitors to view while hiking.

• Lake Ogallala East, Little Thunder, Lone Eagle and Cedar View Campgrounds have been upgraded with new utilities, restrooms, tables, grills and more than 400 new trees. Financial assistance from the Keith County Visitor’s Committee made many of these projects possible.

• Contracted services, including refuse removal and portable restrooms, have been expanded.

• New gatehouses were installed at Cedar View and Lake Ogallala.

• Angler access improvements have been made in the northwest corner of Lake Ogallala, featuring an accessible peninsula and floating fishing bridge.

• New boat docks were installed on the west side of Lake Ogallala; the northern dock features an accessible kayak and canoe launch.

A park entry permit is required of each vehicle visiting Lake McConaughy or Lake Ogallala state recreation area. Find out more at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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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