Outdoor notes: Landowners should visit NGPC site to provide parcel ID
Improvements to the Nebraska Game and Parks online permitting system require landowners to submit their parcel identification number as part of their user account profile.
Landowners are encouraged to visit the site at GoOutdoorsNE.com, look up their accounts and update their profile with current information, including their parcel ID. Parcel IDs can be found on the landowner’s real estate tax statement or via the county assessor.
In the new, user-friendly permitting system, customers can purchase a permit, apply for a draw permit, or set their account to auto-renew previous purchases. Landowners also may add qualifying family members to their land via the customer profile.
Nebraska offers many hunting opportunities — many at reduced rates — to qualifying landowners and their immediate family.
To learn more about the new permit system, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/permits.
Commissioners approve LWCF, RTP grant awards
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 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.
Commissioners also approved the following recreational trail projects for federal funding through the Recreational Trails Program:
- 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;
- 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; and
- 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.
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.
Catch these Game and Parks education events in February
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in February. Here are some opportunities:
Nature Inquiry Workshop Series set for early childhood educators
The Nature Inquiry Workshop Series, a weekly virtual event for early childhood educators, continues Feb. 7.
The free, virtual workshop, which begins at 6 p.m., will explore wildlife sign and tracks. Educators will learn how to facilitate inquiry-based learning, which prioritizes a learner’s questions and ideas by engaging their sense of curiosity and awe.
Little Saplings program presents Great Backyard Bird Count
Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.
The 2023 series continues Feb. 1 with the theme Great Backyard Bird Count at 9 a.m. It is designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult caregiver. The cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program and includes admission to the Education Center after the program.
See the calendar event entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for more information.
‘The Science of …’ virtual webinar series continues
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s virtual series “The Science of …” wraps up in February. The first two Thursdays at 3 p.m. Central time, Game and Parks educators will discuss the science behind common things regarding nature and animals.
The topics are: Feb. 2 – Dragonflies and Damselflies; Feb. 9 – Science of Ungulates
The webinars are free, but separate registration is required for each. See the calendar event entries at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov to register.
Contact [email protected] for more information.
Join the Winter Family Nature Club
Winter doesn’t mean outdoor adventure has to end; it just changes the experience.
Join the Winter Family Nature Club, an effort to empower families to explore nature and practice outdoor skills even in wintertime.
Events are planned from 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and March 11 at Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area near Stanton.
Wildcat Tales preschool program is Feb. 14
Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will host the monthly Wildcat Tales preschool program Feb. 14.
The program Slow Slugs will meet at the Nature Center at 10 a.m. Mountain time. There will be a lesson plan, story and hands-on activity specifically targeted for children ages 2-6 years.
The program is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required. For more information, contact the Nature Center at 308-436-3777. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Homeschool Hike set for Feb. 15-16 at Schramm Park SRA
Homeschool families are invited to join an outdoor educator on a guided hike to learn about eagles at Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna during the Homeschool Hikes program Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.
Homeschool Hikes is a monthly nature exploration program hosted by the Schramm Education Center geared toward homeschool families.
Participants are encouraged to RSVP in advance at forms.gle/Vjg38GEqXHgGEkLFA. Cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program. This includes admission to the Schramm Education Center after the program. Schramm Family Pass members participate free.
This program is recommended for ages 5 and up.
Participants should dress in season-appropriate layers and wear closed-toed shoes that can get dirty. Hats and water bottles are recommended.
Communicating Environmental Education topic of webinar
Join the free virtual webinar Sharing the Value of Nebraska’s Ecosystems through Innovative Educational Resources at 12:30 p.m. Central time Feb. 22.
Grace Gaard, aquatic ecology education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, will discuss how environmental education seeks to connect audiences to natural ecosystems. She will use as an example the Wetlands Outreach and Education Project, a model to discuss what has been learned and how others might use various methods of storytelling and science communication.
This webinar is part of the Conservation Education Lunch and Learn Series, which dives into the science behind educational efforts and practices by learning from experts on a variety of science and educational topics. Direct questions to [email protected].
Visit the event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov to register and get more information.
Wildcat Hills to host Waterfowl homeschool program
Learn about the EnvironArt program and even learn how to draw waterfowl like a professional artist during the Wildcat Hills Homeschool program Waterfowl on Feb. 16.
This program meets at 10 a.m. Mountain time at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center.
The program is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required. For more information contact the Nature Center at 308-436-3777. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Schramm Education Center busy with programs in February
Several programs are planned for the Schramm Education Center in February. Admission for the center is $10 adults, $7 youth and seniors and 3 and under are free.
Pack Tactics – Explore interactions between animals that hunt and animals that are hunted in this free program at 1 p.m. Feb. 5. Some animals form groups that help members survive and engage in pack tactics. Meet in the Schramm Education Center classroom.
Animal Feedings – Observe an animal feeding daily at 10:30 a.m. in February and learn about the park’s animal care and the animals’ unique adaptations. This program is free with paid admission and will meet in the lobby.
Fly-Tying Workshop – Join the Cornhusker Fly Fishers for a “Tie-in” at 10 a.m. Feb. 18 and observe them demonstrating their craft before trying it out and making a fly to take home.
Forest Findings – At 1 p.m. Feb. 26, explore the geological outcrop and park trails at the park. Ask questions, discover history and learn about the science of ecological succession. Meet at the Hatch House at Schramm Park State Recreation Area.
Birds and Binoculars at Mahoney SP on Feb. 4
Come to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park for Birds and Binoculars at 10 a.m. Feb. 4.
Bird lovers of all ages are invited to gather at the park’s administration office for a variety of bird activities in preparation for the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count. Learn beginner birding skills, identify birds at feeders or on a hike, complete a birding craft and learn about homemade bird feeders.
Call the park at 402-944-2523 for more information.