Outdoor notes: Gov. Ricketts proclaims May is Take ‘Em Fishing Month in Nebraska

Outdoor notes: Gov. Ricketts proclaims May is Take ‘Em Fishing Month in Nebraska
Gov. Pete Ricketts BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN, Neb. – Fishing improves Nebraskans’ quality of life and is crucial to the conservation of our natural resources. To encourage Nebraskans to go fishing and introduce newcomers to the activity, on May 6 Gov. Pete Ricketts officially proclaimed the month of May as Take ’Em Fishing Month in Nebraska.

Take ’Em Fishing is a new challenge introduced by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, which encourages experienced anglers to pledge to take new or lapsed anglers fishing. Now through Sept. 15, anglers submit a photo of themselves taking someone fishing can enter an online drawing for dozens of prizes including a Bass Tracker Classic fishing boat, SCHEELS and Cabela’s gift cards, kayaks, fishing gear, camping equipment, a stay at a Nebraska state park and more.

“Every angler learned to fish from someone,” said Nebraska Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas. “We hope this challenge will inspire our experienced fishermen and fisherwomen to remember those early trips that helped grow their love of fishing, and to pass on the tradition to someone new.”

Fishing is vital to the conservation of Nebraska’s natural resources, as money generated through the sale of fishing permits and aquatic habitat stamps is used to maintain healthy fisheries, improve water quality and to enhance access for anglers.

Economically, fishing also provides a huge boost, contributing $324 million to the state’s economy annually, and creating $210 million in retail sales.

On a more personal level, fishing also improves mental health, brings families and friends closer together, and creates more inspired workers.

“For many Nebraskans, fishing provides cherished memories and a long-held tradition of enjoying the outdoors,” said Dean Rosenthal, the Nebraska Game and Parks fisheries division administrator. “With Take ’Em Fishing, we aim to introduce this activity to a new generation of anglers, and we extend our thanks to Gov. Ricketts for understanding, recognizing and honoring this important goal.”

For more information about Take ’Em Fishing Challenge, including prizes, official rules and how to enter, visit Outdoornebraska.org/TakeEmFishing. For questions on getting started in fishing or public places to fish, visit OutdoorNebraska.org or contact your nearest Game and Parks office.

More than 200 volunteers assist with cleanup at Fremont Lakes SRA

LINCOLN, Neb. – Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area officially re-opened to the public May 1 – in no small part, Nebraska Game and Parks staff members say, due to the efforts of a hard-working group of volunteers.

On April 27, roughly 250 people showed up at a volunteer cleanup day, removing debris, garbage, sticks and logs. They also planted flowers, painted, and removed flowerbeds.

They stuck around despite a cold front that moved in partway through the event, bringing strong winds and cold temperatures. “Everybody held in pretty strong,” said Jeff Fields, a Nebraska Game and Parks regional superintendent.

About half of the volunteers belonged to several local Boy Scout troops. Staff put them to work at Lake 20, one of the hardest-hit areas. “They had miles and miles and miles of sticks and cornstalks and general garbage that they raked up for us,” Fields said. “They did a really, really awesome job.”

Fields and Fremont Lakes Park Superintendent Bill Booth were both touched by the turnout. “It was pretty emotional for both Bill and I just to see this big group of people there. In Fremont, there’s still people that aren’t even in their homes yet that were out there helping out. That shows a lot,” Fields said.

Booth wasn’t surprised by the turnout. “There’s just a lot of people that care about the park,” he said. “It was good for people to come out and see that yeah, we did have some damage, but it’s not maybe as bad as what people thought.”

Events like these bring to light how much parks mean to people, Fields and Booth said. “I could really tell that it meant a lot to swing the gates open,” Booth said. “Even though we’re limited in some areas and we have some restrictions, it’s nice to have it open. And we wouldn’t have been able to do it without that group of volunteers.”

Visitors to Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area are advised that while much of the park is open, several areas will remain closed or have use limitations in place as repairs continue. Restricted areas are as follows:

— A no-wake/5 mph speed limit is in place on lakes 10, 15 (Victory) and 20 because of snags, trees and other potential boat hazards. Normal recreational boating activities on these lakes is expected by the end of May;

— Fisherman’s Point Campground in the north camping area will be closed to all camping until further notice due to high lake levels and roadway damage;

— Access to the Pathfinder Campground will be from west side of the area just off of County Road 19;

— Portions of roadways damaged by flooding have been closed. The public is reminded to observe cautionary signage and barricades.

Both the east and west entrances to the south camping areas are open. A valid 2019 Nebraska State Park Permit is required for all vehicles entering the park. For more information on Fremont Lakes and other Nebraska state park areas, visit OutdoorNebraska.org.

Butterfly survey citizen science training opportunities available

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will be host two citizen science trainings in June to prepare volunteers to assist with the Monarch and Regal Fritillary Surveys project.

This workshop is for anyone interested in completing transect surveys looking for monarch and regal butterflies between June 15 and July 15, 2019.

The first training will be June 11 from 10-11 a.m. at Nine-Mile Prairie near Lincoln. Contact Alie Mayes at alie.mayes@nebraska.gov for more information.

The second training will be June 17 from 10-11 a.m. at Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering. Contact Amanda Filipi at amanda.filipi@nebraska.gov to sign up.


Nebraska Big Game Society receives NET grant for wildlife water development project

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Big Game Society will receive $25,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the Solar Water Well Equipment Water Catchments project.

The project is one of the 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Trust this year. Of these, 85 were new applications and 32 are carry-over projects.

This wildlife water development project is a partnership between Nebraska Big Game Society and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The goal is to provide wildlife water sources on public and private lands in the arid regions of the northwestern Panhandle.

The project has three parts: replace existing well mechanical equipment with solar-based equipment for greater efficiency and constant use throughout the year; install new water wells with solar equipment in areas that presently have no natural water source; and install water catchment structures in remote areas with limited water sources or man-made water wells.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 projects across the state.

Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.


Game and Parks receives NET grant for WILD Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will receive $200,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the WILD Nebraska Program.

The project is one of the 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Trust this year. Of these, 85 were new applications and 32 are carry-over projects.

Game and Parks and its partners have been implementing the WILD Nebraska program on private lands since 2000. The agency allocates approximately $100,000 toward WILD Nebraska and requests for these funds far exceed the annual allocation. This grant will add more opportunity for better stewardship, wildlife habitat, and public use opportunities.

The goal of WILD Nebraska is to increase and improve wildlife habitat on private land and lands owned by conservation partners to optimize recreational opportunities. WILD Nebraska is a flexible program that allows projects to be completed that do not fit into other programs, add practices to improve the end product, and work on conservation partner lands.

The NET request of $200,000 ($100,000 per year) will be approximately distributed to grasslands (40 percent), wetlands (50 percent) and woodlands (10 percent). Estimates of acres impacted include 750-1,200 grassland, 300-420 wetland, and 75-150 woodland. With partner contributions, those numbers will increase. In the last two WILD Nebraska grants, 118 projects were completed in 51 counties.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 projects across the state.

Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.


Game and Parks receives NET grant for Grassland Enhancement Initiative

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will receive $250,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the Grassland Enhancement Initiative project. This is the first year of award, with a potential for a second year funding totaling $250,000.

The project is one of the 117 projects receiving $19,501,444 in grant awards from the Trust this year. Of these, 85 were new applications and 32 are carry-over projects.

Game and Parks and Pheasants Forever will use Trust and matching funds to help landowners complete grassland habitat improvements on 45,000 acres of private lands across Nebraska. These improvements will be accomplished through the implementation of practices such as prescribed fire, tree removal, herbicide application, disking, grazing, and herbaceous seeding.

This project will counter threats to grasslands such as the encroachment of eastern redcedar, absence of management and conversion. With time and an absence of management, plant diversity of grasslands has decreased and many tracts have become monocultures of grass. This loss of plant diversity has decreased the amount of suitable habitat for grassland birds. Grassland management activities on these acres restore diversity and productivity for wildlife such as pollinators and grassland birds. The creation and improvement of grasslands will generate many benefits to landowners and wildlife, as well as hunters and local economies.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $305 million in grants to over 2,200 projects across the state.

Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.

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