Outdoor notes: Catch cowboys, soldiers, and Miss V the traveling cowgirl at Fort Kearny event
Join Fort Kearny State Historical Park for an afternoon of free cowboy fun from 2 to 4 p.m. June 28 at 1020 V Road, Kearney.
The event will feature Miss V, the traveling cowbelle; Dan Melton, cowboy; Bob Lamberson, storyteller; and Lyle Henderson former cowboy and owner of the Platte Valley Saddle Shop. Free “old time” root beer and sarsaparilla will be served.
Reenactors also will be at the park to discuss life as a soldier during the fort’s early days, and Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park staff will talk about its role in protecting early pioneers. Period firearms from Fort Hartsuff also will be on display.
Miss V will give a musical performance from 3 to 3:20 p.m. She will join Melton, Lamberson, and Henderson, along his wife Lynda, on the grounds through the afternoon, each sharing their unique cowboy stories.
Lyle will talk about his early days of being a cowboy in Idaho and Grand Island area and about his and his father’s connection to the Pony Express Association. He and his wife also will display their custom saddles.
Miss V will showcase her homemade instruments and share stories from her 14 years living a pioneer lifestyle on a historic claim in northwest Wyoming. Melton will share stories of growing up on a ranch in southwest Nebraska homesteaded by his grandfather, helping with the cattle and quarter horses. And Lamberson, of the Palmer area, will share stories of the cowboy livelihood.
In addition to the festivities, visitors to the park will be able to explore exhibits and the reconstructed buildings, including the stockade, parade grounds, powder magazine, and blacksmith/carpenter shop.
The event is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required. Get one in advance at OutdoorNebraska.org.
Learn more about the park at OutdoorNebraska.org/FortKearny.
Big game draw permit application period continues through June 24
Residents and nonresidents may apply for a draw status Nebraska deer permit in two mule deer conservation areas through June 24.
In 2022, the Platte Mule Deer Conservation Area and the Frenchman MDCA are the only deer permits in the drawing. A preference point may be purchased in lieu of participating in the drawing.
Residents and eligible landowners also may apply for a firearm or muzzleloader antelope permit, and elk applicants may apply for a general elk permit. An antelope preference point and an elk bonus point may be purchased in lieu of participating in the drawing.
Applications must be received by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission by 5 p.m. Central time – or by 11:59 p.m. for online applications – on June 24. One application is allowed per person per species.
Draws are used to provide equal opportunity to obtain high demand permits. Resident and nonresidents are separated in the drawing, with at least 85% of permits reserved for residents.
Applications may be made at OutdoorNebraska.org, via application form in the 2022 Big Game Guide, or in person at a Game and Parks permitting office. A list of offices is in the Big Game Guide.
Results of the draw will be available by July 1.
Visit OutdoorNebraska.org, which includes a digital version of the Big Game Guide, for more information.
Grove Trout Rearing Station closing temporarily to visitors
The Grove Trout Rearing Station near Royal, Nebraska, will be closed to visitors until further notice due to upcoming expected high air temperatures in the area.
Warm water stresses trout, which have experienced health issues as the water to the facility has warmed. Warm water holds less oxygen, which is crucial to trout production.
Additional stressors could further compromise fish health, prompting the decision to close visitation to this popular Antelope County destination.
“Game and Parks and the staff at the facility would like to thank the public for its cooperation and understanding,” said Greg Anderson, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Fisheries Division assistant administrator for fish production.
Grove, which produces and stocks approximately 110,000 trout a year, is one of five fish-production facilities in the state managed by the Game and Parks. Learn more at outdoornebraska.gov/hatcheries.
Celebrate Nebraska Pollinator Week starting June 20
Join the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in celebrating our state’s native pollinators — including more than 200 species of butterflies — during Nebraska Pollinator Week this June 20-26.
Pollinator Week, in Nebraska and internationally, is an effort to celebrate and raise awareness about pollinators and their conservation. Pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, add more than $217 billion to the worldwide economy through crop pollination. They pollinate more than 180,000 plant species around the world — including plants that provide food for people, birds and mammals.
The public is encouraged to take part in virtual and public events around Nebraska. A list of these events can be found at nebraskapollinatorweek.org/events.
Game and Parks also is hosting the annual Nebraska Pollinator Week Challenge. The event challenges participants to submit at least five pollinator observations using the application iNaturalist. Anyone who participates in the challenge can submit to receive a pollinator prize pack through the Nebraska Pollinator Week website.
Learn more about the Nebraska Pollinator Week Challenge at nebraskapollinatorweek.org/challenge.
Nebraska Pollinator Week is the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s statewide focus on the international Pollinator Week effort hosted through the Pollinator Partnership. Learn more at nebraskapollinatorweek.org.
Catch these Game and Parks education events in July
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in July. Here are some opportunities:
Nature Nerd Night to feature Aquatic Wonders on July 19
Fish, with their scales, swim bladders and lateral lines, have amazing adaptations. In the Nebraska Nature Nerd Night virtual webinar Aquatic Wonders, outdoor educators will discuss the diversity and life strategies of Nebraska fish. The free event starts at 7 p.m. Central time July 19.
Registration is required through the event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov. Participants also may submit questions to be answered during the webinar while registering. For more information, contact [email protected] or follow the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission or Nebraska Wildlife Education on Facebook.
Those unable to attend can view the recorded webinar on the Nebraska Game and Parks YouTube Education Channel.
The Nebraska Nature Nerd Night series takes places on the third Tuesday of every month.
‘Science of’ virtual webinar series returns in July
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s popular “Science of” virtual webinar series returns in July.
Every Thursday at 3 p.m. Central time, Game and Parks educators will discuss some of the science behind common things regarding nature and animals. The topic on July 7 will be bats.
The hourlong webinars are free, but separate registration is required for each. See the calendar event entries at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for registration links.
The webinar schedule of topics: July 7 – Nebraska bats; July 14 – Crayfish; July 21 – Beetles; July 28 – Edible plants.
The webinars will be recorded and posted to the Nebraska Game and Parks YouTube Education Channel.
Contact [email protected] for more information. Check out the events on Game and Parks’ Facebook page and the Nebraska Project WILD Facebook page.
Early Childhood Educator Workshop set for July 30
A Discover Nature Early Childhood Educator Workshop is scheduled July 30 in Fremont. This free training is designed so educators can increase the quantity and quality of experiences children ages 1-6 have with nature.
Participants will receive three environmental education curriculum guides, a certificate for six hours of in-service credit, and the knowledge to implement hands-on experiences in their work with children.
The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Growing Hearts Academy, 960 Johnson Road. Participants should bring a lunch.
Visit the calendar event entry to register at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.
Paddlefish snagging permits accepted July 1-14
Applications for paddlefish snagging permits will be accepted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission July 1-14.
Applications begin at 1 p.m. Central time July 1. Mail applications must be received by Game and Parks’ Lincoln office by 5 p.m. CT July 14, while online applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. July 14.
Two anglers may submit a joint application, but the applicants must both be residents or nonresidents. The lowest preference point total between the two applicants will be used in the draw.
An angler must be 12 years old by Oct. 1 to apply for a snagging permit.
Permits will be awarded through a random drawing based on angler preference points.
Applicants supplying email addresses will be notified when the draw is complete. Others should monitor their status online. Drawing results will be available by July 20. Successful applicants will have until Aug. 5 to complete the purchase of awarded permits.
Permits awarded but unpaid will result in the applicant losing preference points and forfeiting the permit. Unpaid or unawarded permits remaining after the draw will be made available to the next resident successful applicants.
In lieu of participating in the draw, resident anglers may purchase one preference point during the application period for $10 and nonresidents may buy one for $20.
Snagging of paddlefish and nongame fish is permitted Oct. 1-31 in the Missouri River from the Gavins Point Dam downstream to the mouth of the Big Sioux River at mile marker 734.
For more information, including an application form, read the 2022 Nebraska Fishing Guide at OutdoorNebraska.gov/guides.
Stream renovation underway at Bordeaux Creek WMA
Workers have begun a project to improve a stream and its banks at Bordeaux Creek Wildlife Management Area near Chadron.
Brett Roberg, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission fisheries biologist, said the project on Big Bordeaux Creek is expected to increase stream-angling opportunities, provide cleaner water and increase resilience to drought and flooding.
The project’s primary goal is to regrade a floodplain along the creek to safeguard the active stream channel during times of high water and improve recreational access for anglers. Rocks, trees and other natural materials will be positioned in the stream to diversify habitat for both trout and native fish.
“Given the limited number of cool-water streams that fall on public lands in Nebraska, our project team recognized the need for enhancing and conserving the diversity of habitats found at Bordeaux Creek WMA,” Roberg said. “Stream access and high-quality habitats had been previously limited by the vertical stream banks and elevated erosion, causing a decrease in water quality and a reduction in the desirable habitats for fish.”
Upon completion, anglers will find many fewer obstacles to casting a line along the creek. Areas along the stream also will be reseeded with a diverse mixture of native grasses and supplemented with trees and shrubs. The improvements are expected to damper stream bank erosion and expand the riparian buffer to further improve water quality.
Leading up to the habitat improvements, Game and Parks employees and volunteers tagged about 1,000 fish within the wildlife area and will assess how they respond to the new habitat conditions with follow-up surveys.
The Bordeaux Creek project is part of Game and Parks’ comprehensive Cool Water Stream Management Plan, which strives to support productive and sustainable populations of aquatic life, have healthy riparian zones and clean water, and contribute to watershed stability. Roberg said the project will serve as an exemplary demonstration site for stewardship and sustainability when it is completed.
The project is likely to be finished by the end of the year. It is being funded by proceeds of the Aquatic Habitat Stamp, which is included in the purchase of fishing permits, and a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
Big Bordeaux Creek, which originates from springs in the Pine Ridge, meanders northward through a 1-mile section at the west end of the 1,915-acre wildlife area before later merging with Little Bordeaux Creek and the White River. The section of creek is about 3 miles east of Chadron.
Commissioners approve mountain lion season for 2023
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved staff recommendations for 2023 mountain lion season at its June 17 meeting in Lexington.
Commissioners approved a mountain lion season in the Pine Ridge similar to 2022, with a maximum harvest of four cats, with a sublimit of two females. The number of permits issued via lottery will be lowered from 320 to 200. This change is an effort to boost hunter satisfaction by increasing the probability of a longer season. The harvest objective is to allow the mountain lion population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size. The most recent estimate for the Pine Ridge population from the 2021 genetic survey is 33 mountain lions.
The Commission also approved a 2022 river otter trapping season. The season will be Nov. 1, 2022, through Feb. 28, 2023, or close earlier once 125 otters have been harvested, all other checking requirements will remain the same as last year.
Additionally, the commissioners approved changes to wildlife regulations that will:
- Allow for parcel identification numbers to be used on limited landowner hunting permits beginning January 2023.
- Make it unlawful to possess night vision scopes while hunting game animals and game birds.
- Clarify language to allow elk hunters to hunt with a centerfire rifle during the November firearm deer season.
- Add language to make it illegal to create a baited area on lands owned or controlled by Game and Parks.
- Make it mandatory to check all turkeys after Feb. 1, 2023.
- Allow antelope taken during the October firearm season to be checked in via telephone or internet.
- Clarify language that animals trapped must be removed when checking traps.
- Add the U.S. Forest Service to federal lands where it is unlawful to set body-gripping traps with a jaw spreader larger than 5 inches, with exceptions.
- Changing the Novice Hunter Education Program for upland game birds to be open to all ages and extend the dates.
- Clarify language in the Hunters Helping the Hungry program on record keeping and reimbursement processes.
The commissioners also approved changes to sport fishing regulations that remove grass carp from the list of species that is unlaw to possess or transport. This eliminates a conflict, as grass carp is legal to sell and stock in private waters. Another change amended the list of water bodies where live baitfish may be possessed or used. It is unlawful to possess live fish other than fish legally harvested from the water body. This is to minimize the risk of introduction of invasive fish into new or renovated waters.
Water bodies added to the list where it is illegal to possess or use live baitfish are:
- Crystal Lake, Adams County
- West Cozad WMA, Dawson County
- Standing Bear Lake, Douglas County
- Wagon Train SRA/WMA, Lancaster County
- East Sutherland WMA, Lincoln County
Water bodies removed from the list where it is illegal to possess or use live baitfish are:
- Heartwell Park Lake, Adams County
- Victoria Springs SRA, Custer County
- Lincoln Park Pond, Nuckolls County
Commissioners rejected staff recommendations for a 2023 wild turkey season. Recommended changes to regulations and orders, if approved, would have reduced the spring season personal permit limit from three to two, lowered the fall bag limit from two to one, shortened the fall season to Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, and required all turkeys be checked via phone or internet beginning with the spring 2023 season. The commissioners recommended a public hearing on the matter in the August Commission meeting.
Wildlife biologist Bob Meduna was recognized for his 45 years of service to Game and Parks.
Staff also provided a report on the Aquatic Habitat Program and an update on communications efforts in west-central Nebraska.
Work on Main Ramp Area at Merritt will cause temporary closures
Users of the Main Ramp Area at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area should be aware of repairs there June 22-24 that will result in temporary closures.
Water draining from the pull-through near the ramp area has caused erosion undermining the sidewalk attached to the boat ramp, and immediate repairs are needed.
The boat ramp will be closed temporarily while concrete deliveries are being made. These closures will be brief, and the ramp will open once the delivery is complete.
Boaters may arrive at the ramp and find their boat launching is delayed. Once the work is complete, repaired areas will be marked with traffic cones while the materials are setting. Visitors should not disturb these areas.
Other boat ramps available at Merritt are at Beeds Landing and Powderhorn.
Funding for the repairs is made possible through the Capital Maintenance Funds and Sportfish Restoration Motorboat Access Funds.
Direct any questions to [email protected].