Got a couple, three news items I want to call attention to. These news releases went out last week, want to spread them around some more, especially with the Memorial Day holiday just around the corner. Boaters and anglers need to know:
Access restored to park areas following historic flooding
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has reopened all or portions of several state park areas that were temporarily closed after sustaining damage during March’s historic flood.
The flood damaged roads, campgrounds, electrical hookups, boat ramp and docks, buildings and other structures. Parks staff and volunteers worked quickly to clear debris, repair damaged infrastructure and ensure public safety. Even so, access to some areas and services may be limited in certain locations.
The following park areas are open, with the limitations noted below:
Dead Timber State Recreation Area:
The park is open for day use only. The lower portion of the park and campgrounds are closed. Restrooms are not currently available.
Non-powered and electric boating are permitted; however, activities that may result in full contact with the water including kayaking are restricted until further water testing has been completed.
Louisville State Recreation Area:
The park is open for day use and walk-in camping. Electrical service is in the process of being restored to the campgrounds. Individuals with advance reservations at Louisville will be notified if the status of their reservation is affected. Hydrants and non-modern restrooms are available throughout the park.
Non-powered and electric boating are permitted; however, activities that may result in full contact with the water including swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, and kayaking are restricted until further water testing has been completed.
The canoe access ramp at the west end of the park is currently inaccessible.
Access to trails located at the west end of the park is closed due to debris and washout conditions.
Concessions will operate with reduced hours until Memorial Day Weekend, when normal hours resume.
Niobrara State Park:
The park is accessible only by the following routes:
South/West Route: Hwy. 275/20 west to Newport, Nebraska; Hwy. 137 north to Hwy. 12, Hwy. 12 east to Niobrara State Park (Hwy. 12 is closed east of the Park).
North Route: Neb./S.D. Hwy. 81 to S.D. Hwy. 50 (from Yankton, S.D.) west to S.D. Hwy. 46; S.D. Hwy. 46 west to Hwy. 18 at Pickstown, S.D., Hwy. 18 south to Hwy. 281, east to Hwy. 12, east to the park.
It is anticipated that trail ride and swimming pool activity schedules may be limited this season, dependent on road conditions and staff availability. Contact the Niobrara State Park office at 402-857-3373 for updates.
Willow Creek State Recreation Area:
The park is open for day use and walk-in camping. Electrical service is in the process of being restored to the campgrounds. Individuals with advance reservations will be notified if the status of their reservation is affected.
The main body of the lake is open to all boating. The wooded west end of the lake is restricted to no-wake boating. Activities that may result in full contact with the water including swimming, water skiing, and kayaking are restricted until further water testing has been completed.
The West Creek/Upper Lake portion of the trail system is closed.
Schramm Park State Recreation Area:
Canoe and kayak access is temporarily closed.
Pelican Point State Recreation Area:
Boat docks are not accessible due to high water.
Indian Cave State Park:
The park is open with the following limitations: the boat ramp remains closed; all other areas of the park are open and access to the cave trail has been restored.
Riverview Marina State Recreation Area remains closed as it is still impacted by flood waters.
Speaking of boating access, water levels are still high on our lower Missouri River and that is impacting access:
Nebraska boat ramps unavailable south of Interstate 80
LINCOLN, Neb. – No boat ramps are useable in Nebraska along the Missouri River from Interstate 80 to the Kansas border.
The river is running high and flood warnings remain in effect for portions of the Missouri from Burt County to the southern border.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission crews recently assessed most of the river boat access. Their findings:
From Fort Randall Dam (South Dakota) to Lewis and Clark Lake, Sunshine Bottoms, Verdel Landing WMA, Running Water, and Santee are useable boat ramps. Only the Nebraska tailwaters ramp is known to be open from Gavins Point Dam to Ponca State Park. Between the park and Interstate 80 in Omaha, all ramps are open except NP Dodge Memorial Park in Omaha. Every ramp south of the interstate is closed to access. In many cases, those boat ramps are under water. Some areas have access roads and parking lots under water.
Boaters should be cautious on high-running rivers and in areas that flooded. Underwater debris and other obstacles can create hazards. Debris also may have built up along and under bridges.
For more on boating in Nebraska, visit outdoornebraska.gov/boating/.
Lastly, on the invasive species front at Lewis & Clark Reservoir:
New watercraft cleaning station available at Lewis and Clark’s Weigand Marina
LINCOLN, Neb. – A waterless boat cleaning station recently was installed at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area’s Weigand Marina.
Lewis and Clark Lake is infested with zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species. This new equipment, called a CD3 cleaning station, allows boaters to clean, drain and dry their crafts upon leaving the lake to prevent the spread of invasives to other water bodies.
The CD3 unit is located in the same parking lot as the fish cleaning station, and is available for free to all recreational boaters to stop and clean their craft. The unit contains a vacuum, air blower, brush and hand tools for removing any vegetation from watercraft. The vacuum and blower system allows boaters to clean and dry all livewell and water lines to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. It is lighted for evening and nighttime use.
“Most aquatic invasive species are spread by human activity, either knowingly or inadvertently,” said Jeff Schuckman, Northeast District fisheries manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “Simple steps can be taken to stop the spread of invasives, such as draining the water from your boat and all compartments, knowing how to identify invasive species and what they are, and taking the time to be good stewards of the resource and take preventative measures. Once invasives infest a water body, they may be difficult or impossible to remove and everyone must live with the ramifications.”
Funding for the watercraft cleaning unit came from a grant obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Nebraska Invasive Species Program.
“These units have been used extensively and successfully in Minnesota,” Schuckman said. “This is the first one on a lake in Nebraska.”