Spend some time this spring in Nebraska’s state parks. During March, a variety of events are planned for those for all ages and interests.

Don’t forget to purchase a vehicle park entry permit to enter the state parks. Get one at OutdoorNebraska.gov or at state park entrances.

Murder at the Juice Joint is March 1 at Arbor Lodge

Come to Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska City on March 1 for an evening of fun with Mystery at the Manson: Murder at the Juice Joint. This old-fashioned mystery, which guests may participate in, will take place at Arbor Lodge Mansion at 6:30 p.m.

Participants will receive a character to portray as they arrive at the mansion by 6:15 p.m. Dress as a flapper or gangster or select from our props. Cost is $30, and space is limited for this adults-only event.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit the event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov to buy tickets or for information on adding dinner or lodging.

Reserve sharp-tailed grouse viewing at Niobrara State Park

Experience the sharp-tailed grouse mating dance from a new viewing blind at Niobrara State Park.

Reserve the free viewing blind between March 15 and April 15. The blind holds up to 12 guests. Reserve a spot by calling the park office at 402-857-3373.

Discounted overnight stays at Niobrara SP also are available. Make an early arrival easy by staying at one of the park’s fully equipped cabins or electric campsites. Use promo code “SHARPTAIL24” on the reservation system for discounted weekend rates; weekdays during the offseason already include discounted rates.

Visit the calendar event entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov to make a reservation.

Merritt to host Night Sky Program

Join the National Park Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at 6 p.m. March 23 at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area for a Night Sky Program.

There will be a discussion on orbits and near misses, with a fun activity on planets. The "near misses" refers to the asteroid 4581 Asclepius. This asteroid, comparable in size to a football field, passes in Earth's orbit. In 1989 it came within about six hours, or 450,000 miles, from hitting Earth. March 23 is called Near Miss Day due to the close passage in 1989. 

At 9 p.m., join NPS rangers for a special moon-viewing program.

Meet at the Cedar Bay Campground.

Merritt, renowned for its Sandhills location providing spectacular astronomical views, is a certified International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Low water affecting Nebraska boaters this spring

People planning to launch boats in Nebraska this spring should beware low-water conditions.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission advises boaters to be patient and cautious when launching and loading boats.

“While many of our ramps have been designed or extended to counter these low-water conditions, lack of significant rainfall in some areas following the recent drought still warrant users to be cautious while launching and loading,” said Zach Horstman, Game and Parks’ boating access coordinator.

Horstman recommends boat operators have a spotter with them or check to see if the end of the ramp is visible from the shoreline or dock before launching if water clarity allows.

He added that local Game and Parks staff are a great resource to get the most current ramp conditions as water levels and ramp conditions vary from one lake to the next.

When a lake’s water level falls, less of the boat ramp is underwater, reducing the length of the ramp for a successful launch, which can cause problems launching and loading a boat, including damaging a boat or trailer.

Once on the water, boat operators should be mindful of the increased possibility of underwater hazards during low-water conditions.

Boaters may find some ramps closed locally by signage.