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Infrastructure upgrades highlight Lake Minatare projects

Lake View at Lake Minatare
The Lake View area of Lake Minatare State Recreation area, which features the park’s lighthouse observation tower, has received a major electrical upgrade to its campground. (NGPC/Justin Haag)

MINATARE, Neb. – When camping season hits its stride, visitors to Lake Minatare State Recreation Area will enjoy many improvements that were made in 2020.

At Lake View, the area of the park that features the 55-foot lighthouse observation tower, workers have replaced the shower’s wastewater system and upgraded electrical service to campsites.

Dan Thornton, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission superintendent who manages the park, said the projects may not be obvious to the naked eye, but that they greatly enhance the camping opportunities at the Nebraska Panhandle’s largest reservoir.

“Lake Minatare is a popular place, and we always work to improve infrastructure and offerings to serve the various people who enjoy the park,” Thornton said.

With the upgrade of 37 sites to 50-amp electricity last year at Lake View, all of the campground’s 52 sites are capable of accommodating the power needs sought by today’s owners of large campers and recreational vehicles.

Thornton said the old wastewater system had become dilapidated. At about 30 years old, it was requiring frequent pumpings and was not compliant with today’s environmental regulations.

The electrical upgrade was paid for with a $140,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the wastewater system upgrade was funded by $76,000 from the Game and Parks Capital Maintenance Fund.

The projects come on the heels of a sizable list of other improvements during the past four years. They include the installation of a new restroom/shower facility at the Butte View Campground, new handicapped-accessible boat docks at West Wind and Butte View, and new roofs on park shelters and fish cleaning stations throughout the park. In addition, a local arborist was contracted to remove 80 hazardous cottonwood trees and prune 40 others at Lake View and West Wind, and an aspiring Eagle Scout painted the shelter at Sunrise Beach.

Another sizable project that occurs almost annually is the removal of sand — about 1,000 cubic yards of it last year alone — which blows onto the roads when the lake’s water level recedes in the fall.

Lake Minatare also receives annual stockings of walleye and channel catfish, totaling more than 4,750,000 fish during the past five years.

Lake Minatare is 12 miles northeast of Scottsbluff, accessible from Nebraska Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 26. The 2,158-acre reservoir attracts thousands of anglers, water skiers and swimmers each year.

To obtain more information, reserve a campsite or purchase a Nebraska Park Entry Permit, visit outdoornebraska.org.

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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