Missouri River access guide is a big hit

BROKEN BOW, Neb. — A new, interactive map for recreational users of the Missouri River made a big splash with Nebraska Game and Parks commissioners Thursday.

The online Missouri River Outdoor Recreation Access Guide shows 164 public access sites for fishing, boating, hunting, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on both sides of the river’s 400-mile path along Nebraska’s eastern border.

Commissioner Rex Fisher of Gretna said the guide will help many more families find public places where they can take advantage of the river’s recreational attractions.

“This will make a difference,” he said during a commission meeting at the One Box Conference Center in Broken Bow.

More Nebraskans live within an hour drive of the Missouri than any other river or lake in the state.

Director Jim Douglas said no other state has done a similar map for rivers.

“This app is going to open a wide, wide array of possibilities for Nebraska to develop our water trail system … for all rivers in Nebraska,” he said.

The guide also was designed to aid navigation along the river. The map offers information about the location of cities and other sites, including river mile markers and boat ramps.

More than two dozen commission employees helped provide content for the guide, which was created by Trisha Schlake of Lincoln, a commission GIS application developer. Schlake’s app recently won first place in a 2016 Esri Storytelling with Maps contest.

Schlake demonstrated the map for commissioners. Commissioners responded with applause, and Douglas surprised Schlake with a commission Employee Enterprise Award.

The access guide is on the commission’s website at maps.OutdoorNebraska.gov/MRRecreationGuide.

In other business:

» Fee increases, which will take effect with 2017 permits, were approved for several permits, including hunting, big game, fishing and paddlefish, as well as for habitat, aquatic habitat and Nebraska migratory waterfowl stamps. Some issuing and application fees also were increased. To see a list of fee changes, go to OutdoorNebraska.org/feechanges.

» Commissioners rejected proposed increases to park entry permits. Commissioner Norris Marshall of Kearney said he wanted the staff to study the possibility of charging more for non-resident park visitors. The issue will be reconsidered in October.

The increase in hunt permit fees will help maintain the Game Cash fund, which is used for fish and wildlife management and conservation activities. Extra revenues for the Aquatic Habitat Fund will allow for a sustainable aquatic habitat renovation program, while the additional Habitat Fund dollars will allow for some increase in management efforts to implement the commission’s pheasant plan.

» Approved the operating and capital improvement budget request for the next two fiscal years.

» Approved continued hunting in some state parks and state historical parks.

Brett Roberg, 27, of Holdrege was drawn as the winner of the 2016 bighorn sheep lottery permit. Roberg was one of 2,593 Nebraskans to enter the lottery. Commissioner Mark Spurgin of Paxton drew Roberg’s name from a tumbler.

Service awards were presented to two Broken Bow volunteer instructors for their support of Nebraska’s Hunter Education Program. Louie Stithem was recognized for 40-plus years of service and Dave Haumont was honored for 20-plus years of service.

Awards of Excellence were presented to the Nebraska One Box Pheasant Hunt for its contributions toward conservation of wildlife habitat, and to the Nebraska One Box Rock Crushers for dedication in advancement of shooting sports.

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