By Rod Horn
General Manager - SPNRD 

PLATTE LINES A column of current items of interest from the South Platte NRD

District recreation areas provide many opportunities


As we begin to move into the summer outdoor season, the District is moving forward with plans and work to develop and maintain its recreation areas.

The District owns or cares for four recreation areas, with each county currently holding at least one area. Each has a different offering for the outdoor enthusiast and all provide the opportunity for an outdoor experience unique to our area.

Goldeneye and Goldenrod Wildlife Management Areas both lie in Deuel County. The District manages these areas under an agreement with the owner, the Nebraska Department of Roads.

Goldeneye WMA – near Big Springs – is a 23-acre property featuring one of the gravel pit ponds dotting Nebraska resulting from the construction of Interstate 80. In the pond’s depths are a number of fish species, including black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass and yellow perch. The area has also proven popular with waterfowl hunters, who are allowed under our Recreation Area Rules and Regulations to set up temporary blinds.

Goldenrod WMA, south of Chappell, is a surprising area rich in bird life, from those seen by birdwatchers to game birds large and small. Even the occasional deer can be found within the area’s boundaries. Those who take short hikes to enjoy nature are rarely disappointed with time spent at the area.

The District’s recreation area in Cheyenne County surrounds our office complex in Sidney. While it isn’t a recreation area in the traditional sense, it provides a recreational and learning area for those wanting to see the possibilities for developing their own landscapes or habitat. Spread throughout our lots are examples of trees, shrubs, grasses and best management practices that work in our area to preserve and enhance natural resources.

In Kimball County, the District is continuing work on Oliver Reservoir Recreation Area. As our largest area, Oliver has a wide variety of recreational offerings, from swimming and fishing, to hiking, wildlife viewing, hunting and more.

The day-to-day management of Oliver is new to the District, but entering our second season, we’ve been fortunate to have the support of the Kimball community and volunteers who have dedicate to help with the chores involved in maintaining the area. Last week we held a meeting, hosted by the Oliver Reservoir Advisory Committee, where plans for Oliver were presented to the community. The gathering also brought forth needs for early season volunteers as we prepare for the summer.

While the District will continue to provide seasonal employees to perform many tasks related to the area’s upkeep and maintenance, we’re thankful for the added push volunteers have always given to make Oliver successful. This added contribution helps us jump on, and keep up with the needs to make the area successful.

There are a number of questions to address when it comes to our recreational areas, most related to Oliver. We’ll address some here, but many of the operating procedures and activities allowed are covered in our Recreation Area Rules and Regulations, which can be found on our website or through booklets we have made available.

We’ve had a number of questions concerning toxic blue-green algae, which made a brief appearance for the first time last year. The District participates in a sampling program with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to test for toxic blue-green algae. While Oliver has been a long-time participant in the testing process, last summer’s higher level and alert was unexpected, because Oliver’s historical test results are far below danger levels. We will, however, continue to be part of the sampling program, and provide as much protection as we can to assure a safe experience for visitors.

Already this year we have fielded a number of questions regarding Special Event Permits. These can be obtained through the District for large group gatherings.

Lastly, we are asking for the public’s help in controlling erosion and maintaining our resources’ healthy state as much as possible. By using vehicles, on established roads only, we will reduce erosion and other problems within the area. Established roads are those that have been built with equipment and maintained with gravel surfaces. ATVs are currently allowed on the property, but on road surfaces only.

Working together, we can continue to provide and maintain the District’s recreation areas for all to enjoy.

Rod L. Horn is the general manager of the South Platte Natural Resources District, based in Sidney.


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