The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved grant awards for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program and the Recreational Trails Program at its meeting Jan. 20 in Lincoln.
Commissioners approved the following recreational trail projects for federal funding through the Recreational Trails Program:
Lexington, $250,000 to build a 10-foot-wide, 4,368-foot-long concrete trail in four segments to close gaps in a loop trail started years ago;
Fort Calhoun, $250,000 to build two 8-foot-wide concrete trails totaling 2,475 feet in length that connect existing parks to Fort Atkinson State Historical Park;
Wausa, $250,000 to build an 8-foot-wide, 4,484-foot-long concrete recreational trail around the swimming pool and through the city park to serve as a connection between the two;
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Randolph, $92,256.28 to build an 8-foot-wide, 4,000-foot-long concrete trail within its city park that will connect to another trail under construction.
Funding from the RTP comes from the Federal Highway Administration and is made possible by a portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax paid by users of off-road recreational vehicles.
Commissioners approved the following grant awards totaling nearly $1.2 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program:
Wisner, $299,825 for the Central Park Splash Pad/Restroom Renovation Project;
Lincoln, $399,725 for the Mahoney Park Outdoor Inclusive Playground;
Minden, $64,313.25 for the Chautauqua Park Splash Pad;
Coleridge, $155,000 for the Coleridge Park Improvement Project;
South Sioux City, $178,150 for the South Sioux City Recreation Park Improvements; and
Prague, $103,184 for the Village of Prague Family Park Improvement Project.
Funding from the LWCF comes from the U.S. Department of the Interior and federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.
In other business, commissioners approved changes to boating regulations regarding waters with special restrictions. The changes:
Added to the list of 5 mph/no wake lakes the following: Peterson Lake Wildlife Management Area, Brown County; Archway Lakes, Buffalo County; Ballards Marsh WMA, Cherry County; CNPPID Supply Canal, Lincoln, Douglas, Gosper counties; Flanagan Lake, Douglas County; Big Indian 11a, Gage County; Conestoga State Recreation Area, Lancaster County; Duck Creek Recreation Area, Nemaha County; and Portal Recreation Area, Sarpy County.
Removed from the list of 5 mph/no wake lakes the following: Gavins Point Dam tailwaters, Cedar County, Midway Canyon Reservoir, Dawson County, Plum Creek Canyon Reservoir, Dawson County, and Sanitary and Improvement District No. 177, Douglas County.
Added to the list of no-motorized-vessels lakes the following: Keller Park SRA, Brown County; Crystal Cove Lake, Dakota County; Cherry Creek Diversion Pond, Dawes County; Cherry Creek Pond, Dawes County; Grable Ponds, Dawes County; Ice House Ponds, Dawes County; Diamond Lake WMA, Gage County; and Big Elk, Sarpy County.
Added to the list of electric-motor-only lakes the following: Chester Island WMA, Lincoln County; Midland Lake, Sarpy County; and Shadow Lake, Sarpy County.
Removed from the list of electric-motor-only lakes the following: Archway Lakes, Buffalo County; and Keller Park SRA, Brown County.
Removed from the list of no-vessel lakes the following: Smith Lake-Crescent Lake FWS-NWR, Garden County; Chester Island WMA, Lincoln County; Midland Lake, Sarpy County; and Shadow Lake, Sarpy County.
Added Fremont Lakes SRA’s Victory Lake and Lake 10 to the waters where it is unlawful to operate a vessel faster than 5 mph/no wake from sundown to sunrise.
Added language back limiting the number of those towed for water sports to one on Fremont Lakes SRA’s Victory Lake and Lake 10 and on Bridgeport SRA Center Lake.
Added language back that nonpowered vessels and those powered by outboard electric motors are not allowed to operate on Fremont Lakes SRA’s Victory Lake and Lake 10.
Added an exemption to the restrictions for Game and Parks and other government agencies working in their official capacity.
Additionally, the commissioners:
approved an acquisition of approximately 145 acres from the Nebraska Department of Transportation in Hall County adjacent to Mormon Island State Recreation Area and designated it an addition to the SRA.
approved an acquisition of approximately 75.38 acres from the Nebraska Department of Transportation in Dawson County designated it as Willow Island Wildlife Management Area. They also approved the recommendation to transfer back to NDOT the following properties originally deeded to Game and Parks by NDOT: Big Springs WMA, Bittersweet WMA, Blue Heron WMA, Cattail WMA, East Cozad WMA, East Darr WMA, Overton WMA, the north portion of West Hershey WMA, and the southwest portion of West Maxwell WMA. These properties are being transferred due to a lack of public access inhibiting public usage, their small size, or management concerns by the Commission.
Commissioners also heard updates on parks and fisheries projects ongoing in 2023 and a review of the 2022 depredation program successes.
The depredation program plans to continue to offer effective response options with excellent customer service in a timely manner; promote hunting as the preferred method to control damage; continue outreach to create opportunities to work with landowners, encouraging feedback and supporting aggressive big game permitting.
The commissioners elected their officers for 2023 as follows: Chairman, Scott Cassels, Omaha; Vice Chairman, Doug Zingula, Sidney; and 2nd Vice Chairman, John Hoggatt, Kearney.
Mark Dicke, the agency’s headquarters facility maintenance manager, was recognized for 45 years of service to the Commission and his contributions to Nebraska’s outdoor resources.
The March 2023 meeting dates were updated to March 13-14 in Kearney.