Outdoor notes: State parks are open, high-water levels impact at a few

State parks are open, high-water levels impact at a few

LINCOLN, Neb. – Most of the state’s 76 state park areas are open and full of opportunity for outdoor recreation. The most recent period of extended heavy rains has brought water levels back up in Nebraska, affecting some state parklands and trails.

At Ponca State Park, Riverfront Campground is closed until further notice because of high Missouri River levels. The docks at the boat ramp have been removed until further notice, but the main boat ramp and the one at the park’s North Addition are open.

At Indian Cave State Park, access roads to the boat ramp and the historic cave are closed temporarily due to impacts from the rising Missouri River. The cave access road is closed after a half-mile-long section of the river bluff slid onto the road. Portions of hiking trails 10 and 11 adjacent to the landslide area will be closed until they can be assessed for safe public use. The timeline for reopening the boat ramp, roads and trails has not been determined.

Riverview Marina State Recreation Area at Nebraska City still is closed as it has been underwater since the March flood.

Dead Timber State Recreation Area in Dodge County has flooded again and remain inaccessible.

Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area in Cherry County is only accessible via Nebraska Highway 97 from Valentine. The highway north from Mullen to Merritt is closed temporarily because of water on the road following recent heavy rains.

The latest section of Cowboy Trail to close is Oakdale to Neligh. A bridge just west of Oakdale was accessible after the March flood, but recent high flows of the Elkhorn River eroded away a 150-foot section of trail leading to the bridge.

For up-to-date information check: http://outdoornebraska.gov/weatherclosures/.

Game and Parks accepting grant applications for projects promoting outdoor recreation

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is accepting grant applications for parks and other outdoor recreation facilities and amenities promoting outdoor recreation.

The grants are funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program administered by the National Park Service for outdoor recreation projects. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, ballfields, soccer fields, swimming pools, picnicking facilities, playgrounds, pool renovations, splash pads, park acquisitions and development, and park related support facilities. All projects must encourage outdoor recreation. Project sponsors must be a political subdivision, such as cities, county governments or Natural Resource Districts. The LWCF provides reimbursable matching grants for up to 50 percent of the project costs.

The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations and to provide money to governments to purchase land, water and wetlands to benefit all. The primary source of revenue for the LWCF is from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Grant applications must be submitted Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 by 5 p.m. Information and application materials are available at outdoornebraska.gov/lwcf/. Approved grants will be announced after the January, 2019 Commission meeting. If you have further questions contact Schuyler Sampson at 402.471.5283 or schuyler.sampson@nebraska.gov.

Opportunities for outdoor summer fun flourish at Nebraska’s state parks

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraskans looking for outdoor summer fun have numerous options right in their backyard: the state boasts 76 state park areas filled with amazing wildlife and diverse opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Nebraska’s state park system has long been a go-to for outdoor recreation. Park areas are carefully managed to support a variety of activities, such as camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing and more. Excellent equestrian trails at Fort Robinson State Park and Jeep rides at Chadron State Park offer a unique vantage point of western Nebraska’s striking Pine Ridge. For those looking for a touch of indoor comfort to go along with their outdoor experience, 10 state parks offer cabins and lodge rooms that are popular with visitors, especially the mini-lodges at Ponca State Park and the new “glamping” cabins at Platte River State Park.

Some of the most exciting park opportunities can be found at a cluster of parks along the Platte River, where activities and amenities are being greatly expanded. New park features include a floating playground, a treetop rope course, a state-of-the-art rock climbing facility, and the newly-opened Schramm Education Center, an interactive nature center featuring the state’s river, pond and lake systems. Learn more at Outdoornebraska.org/ventureparks.

For an extra memorable park experience, visitors can attend one of the many family-friendly events taking place this summer at parks across the state. Community Fishing Nights encourage newcomers to discover fishing, and living history events bring to life Nebraska’s storied past. Other events include melodramas at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, art shows, nature hikes and vintage car shows. Several parks are holding special events celebrating Father’s Day and the Fourth of July.

Both daily and annual park entry permits are available. To learn more about Nebraska’s state park opportunities, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.

Public urged to leave wildlife babies alone

LINCOLN, Neb. – It is natural for some people who see a young wild animal apparently abandoned by its mother to want to rescue it. The correct course of action is to leave it alone.

Here are some rules of thumb from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission regarding wildlife babies:

— A lone fawn, or other young bird or mammal, may appear to be abandoned or injured, but the mother frequently is off feeding or drinking. Do not move it. The longer the fawn is separated from its mother, the slimmer the chance that it will be reunited with her. In some cases, other deer will adopt an orphaned fawn.

— It is normal for a doe to leave its fawn to keep it from being detected by predators. Predators can see the doe as it feeds, so she leaves the fawn hidden and leaves the area to draw attention away from the fawn’s location.

— Do not try to raise wildlife babies as pets. As animals mature, they become more independent and follow natural instincts to leave and establish their own territories. Rescued animals are poorly prepared for life in the wild.

— Most wildlife babies are protected by state or federal law and it is illegal to possess them.

See Pony Express re-ride at Rock Creek Station and Fort Kearny state historical parks

LINCOLN, Neb. – Watch the Pony Express ride again June 11-12 at two Nebraska state historical parks.

Each year, members of the National Pony Express Association recreate the Pony Express in a commemorative re-ride over a 10-day period. Riders carry letters in a mochila over the original trail. The 1,966-mile, eight-state event is conducted 24 hours a day until the mail is delivered to its destination.

Riders will hand off the letters to a fresh team at Rock Creek Station State Historical Park near Fairbury at 1:45 p.m. on June 11. A handoff will also take place at Fort Kearny State Historical Park at 6 a.m. on June 12. Biscuits and gravy will be available for visitors at 5:45 a.m. free of charge.

For more information, visit Nationalponyexpress.org or call Fort Kearny at 308-865-5305. A park entry permit is required.