Fish Stocking and Sampling
During May, Fisheries Production and Management personnel spent much of their time stocking fish and sampling fish populations to assess management strategies. The Production Section is experimenting with “intensive culture” of largemouth bass at the Valentine Hatchery. Pond culture of bass involves stocking adult bass into a pond and then allowing them to reproduce naturally. The end result remains to be seen when the pond is drained. Bass spawn over an extended time period and early-spawned young tend to eat those hatched later. The end goal of artificially spawning bass and stocking them into ponds at a uniform size, is to produce more bass. In an effort to reduce costs involved with growing muskellunge up to advanced sizes, the Production Section is raising golden shiners at the Calamus Hatchery. This will save thousands of dollars that would otherwise be spent on minnows purchased from a commercial dealer. The photo on the right shows the North Platte Hatchery loading 3 million walleye fry onto a truck for stocking. At the reservoir, fish are then “tubed” into tanks in boats and trickled into the water to avoid handling and stress and increase survival.
Perhaps the two most notable individual fish captured this May were taken by University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate students conducting a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission-funded research project. Marty Hammel and his crew caught a pallid sturgeon that was produced at the Garrison Fish Hatchery in North Dakota in 2001, stocked in the Missouri River at Mulberry Bend in northeast Nebraska, only to be caught in the Platte River just downstream of the Loup Power Canal confluence (279 miles from the stocking site). This is the furthest upstream a pallid sturgeon has ever been found in the Platte River. The other notable fish captured by UNL was a 16-pound lake sturgeon (shown in photo), caught from the Platte River near Schuyler on a trotline.
Missouri River Cleanup and School Festival
Fisheries Division personnel were among those who contributed to a two-day event in Yankton, S.D., that cleaned up both sides of the Missouri River and taught students about fish of the Missouri River, invasive species, water quality, ground water, endangered species, climate change, cottonwood forests, and more.
May 1 was a cold, blustery day, but the weather did not deter about 50 youths from going fishing at the Valentine State Fish Hatchery. The Nebraska Walleye Association provided each child a rod and reel and tackle box, the Valentine Lions Club fed them, and the Fisheries Division hosted the event and stocked a pond with rainbow trout (from the Grove Trout Rearing Station). Participants learned about knot-tying, fish identification, water and boating safety, and other fishing topics before heading out with rod in hand to go fishing. On May 4-5, the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium Outdoor Education Center hosted its 20th Annual Water Works Water Festival. With help from the Papio-Missouri River NRD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Metropolitan Utilities District, 1,700 fifth graders from Douglas and Sarpy counties visited the aquarium, learned about water biology and ecology, and went fishing and canoeing in the Schramm Park ponds. Fisheries Division employees Andrea Faas, Rick Eades and Greg Hartel were among the agency employees who, along with 36 volunteers and 50 teachers and additional helpers, took 160 Millard Public Schools special education students fishing at the Two Rivers State Recreation Area (SRA) trout lake. Besides fishing (and taking home 218 cleaned rainbow trout), the Fishing for All event provided students the opportunity to participate in archery, a Project WILD game and encounter live raptors. Family Fishing Day activities took place on May 22 at Alexandria SRA, Fort Robinson State Park (SP), Fremont SRA Lake No. 3, Louisville SRA, Mahoney SP, Platte River SP, Ponca SP, Two Rivers SRA Lake No. 1, and Victoria Springs SRA, in conjunction with Free Fishing and Park Entry Day. At those sites, rods and reels, bobbers, hooks, sinkers, bait, and fishing instruction were provided for participants. Catfish or trout were stocked at most of the lakes to increase the odds of everyone catching a fish.
Larry Hutchinson Honored
The Big Mac Fly Fishers honored Fisheries’ Larry Hutchinson for his efforts to protect our state’s recreational fishery and water resources and for being a nice guy and good friend.
INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
Social Media Efforts Expanding
The agency’s social media efforts continue to expand, with the addition of Afield and Afloat (http://afieldandafloat.wordpress.com/),
NEBRASKAland Magazine’s new blog, and the YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/NGPCnews). The Commission’s facebook page has grown rapidly to 4,900 active fans and Twitter followers now number 3,300. If you haven’t become a fan of our facebook page, sign up today. Our fans and NGPC staff share lots of good advice, photos, recipes, stories, and so much more. Drop by if you get the chance.
Spring Expos Another Big Success in 2010
The spring expos brought the outdoors to thousands of Nebraskans again this year. Thanks to staff and volunteers throughout the agency for making them a success. Here’s a quick wrap-up:
East Expo, April 21-22, Platte River State Park – Approximately 1,206 students in grades 4-5, in addition to teachers and parents, attended the school day expo. There were 24 schools from southeastern Nebraska participate in the event.
Nebraska Outdoor Expo, May 13-15, Fort Kearny State Recreation Area (SRA) – Approximately 1,906 students in grades 4-6, plus teachers and parents, attended the two school days. A number of new schools participated, including one from O’Neill that traveled more than 175 miles to attend. The public day, May 15, saw about 8,500 youth and adults. A number of new activities and seminars were added this year, including bow fishing, s’mores eating contest, dog training, trapping demonstration, and much more.
West Expo, May 4-5, Wildcat Hills SRA – There were 818 students in grades 5-7 from 10 schools attending the event. The first day saw 70 mph winds that canceled the afternoon sessions, but the weather cooperated on the second day and events went as planned. There were 27 agency staff members assisting, as well as 22 agency volunteer hunter education and bow hunter education instructors. Twenty-six other volunteers gave their time, as well.
Boat Accident Response Team—In a cooperative effort spearheaded by the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office and District Law Enforcement Supervisor Duane Arp, boat accident training sponsored by the Game and Parks was offered to several law enforcement agencies earlier this spring at Platte River State Park (SP).
That effort spawned a cooperative agreement between multiple law enforcement agencies to pool their resources in response to serious boat accidents. Agencies in support of BART signed on as partners at a press conference late this month. Sheriff’s Offices from Saunders, Washington, Dodge, Douglas, Cass, Sarpy, and Lancaster in addition to the Nebraska State Patrol have all expressed support in sharing resources to make our waters safe. Several cooperative water based enforcement projects involving Officers from the Game and Parks have been planned throughout the summer.
District 1 – Other Projects and Details
May is traditionally a busy month for outreach projects and this year was no exception. During the month of May, District I officers participated in 32 outreach programs. Some examples would include: a youth boat / water safety day in Valentine, the West Nebraska Expo in Scottsbluff, hunter education and aquatic education programs.
These projects resulted in officer interactions with 955 youth and 163 adults. There were 168 minority contacts included in these figures.
District I Conservation Officers remained busy during the month monitoring fisherman throughout the district. Despite unseasonably cold weather during the month there was the usual increase in fishing pressure on area lakes.
Some of the best fishing occurred in the Scottsbluff area as fisherman concentrated on the Lake Minatare inlet and harvested a good number of wipers, walleye and catfish. Trout fishing was also excellent in area sandpits, and officers were kept busy due to numerous incidents of individuals overbagging. Three individuals were cited at the Zoo Pond in Scottsbluff for a variety of violations that included no fishing permits and overbag limit of trout. Forty-three trout were seized as a result of these three cases.
Officers Kling and Packett also put the finishing touches on an investigation into a series of hunting violations that occurred in the Chadron/Crawford area. The investigation began in early October 2009 and was completed in mid-May with the issuance of citations to four individuals.
There were approximately two dozen charges filed against the individuals that included: hunting with artificial light, hunting in closed season, hunting without permission, criminal trespass, hunting from roadway, no hunting permit, no habitat stamp, failure to cancel deer permits, wanton waste, and liquidated damages on two deer. This was a prime example of the time it can take to complete investigations.
District 3 – Outreach Programs
A total of ten programs were provided to youth groups with 189 youth and 38 adults present. We also gave one hunter education program to 14 youth and three adults. Supervisor Zimmer also attended one planning meeting at Ponca State Park (SP) for the Missouri River Outdoor Expo. One officer also assisted at the Kearney Expo in early May.
One important cooperative interdivision effort occurred at Willow Lake near Bassett. Due to recent rains in the area, Twin Lakes experienced very high water conditions that threatened the ecosystem of this recently renovated waterway. Carp were threatening to use the runoff water as a highway into the lake. Agency personnel from Fisheries, Law Enforcement and Parks Divisions collaborated to create fence barriers in an attempt to prevent the carp from migrating into the lake. This was a good example of the efforts that are so important to the ongoing work of the agency.
District 3 Other Projects / Details
The month of May has been a busy one in the district. Given the fact that only four active field Conservation Officers were working during the month, the team was extremely busy. The officers that were working spent most of the month trying to handle complaints in vacant areas and patrol their own areas as well.
Due to the short-handed situation, no special enforcement details were possible. With the fishing season in full swing and success being good, the officers spent most of their time contacting fishermen checking permits and bag and size limits. Several cases were made involving illegal size bass being taken. Officers Williams and George worked two separate turkey hunting complaints and made two good turkey hunting cases, one involving a hen turkey being taken and nonresidents hunting turkeys without permits.
Conservation Officer Cory Krause finished up a cooperative enforcement effort with Wisconsin. The case involved the illegal take of deer last fall by nonresidents in Nebraska. Charges are pending in both states and federally.
District 4—Outreach Projects
District 4 Officers participated in 13 Outreach programs in May, including four officers working with the Cornhusker Trap Shoot in Doniphan. There were two officers that assisted with the Kearney Expo at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area (SRA). Presentations were given to Boy Scouts on Nature and Ecology, elementary schools on Prey and Predators where the COYOTE program was used. Two Boater Education classes were offered as well as two classes on Aquatic Education.
Officer Andrews and Officer Dierking were involved in Youth Mentor hunts. Officer Dierking took a young man out for a successful turkey hunt. District 4 Officers assisted with two youth fishing clinics, one at Cozad and the other at Victoria Springs SRA where more than 100 youth participated. The fishing was excellent, and the kids caught a lot of fish. Conservation Officer Mike Thome represented the Game and Parks in the Law Enforcement Torch run for Special Olympics. A very worthy cause.
District 4 – Other Projects / Details
District 4 Officers were involved in several cooperative activities with other law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, two of these incidents were search and recovery of two drowning victims at Enders SRA and Midway Lake.
Officer Rich Routh assisted the Harlan County Corps of Engineers as they checked boats for invasive species before letting them launch for a walleye tournament. No complaints from fishermen were received and all were concerned about the possibility of polluting our waters. Officer Sorensen traveled to Colorado with USFW Special Agent Damico to give elk antlers confiscated at the October I-80 Road Check to a Colorado officer for a case they were working. While in Colorado, Officer Sorensen was able to conclude an investigation into the illegal purchase of resident permits by nonresident hunters. He obtained confessions and was able to finish up his case. Officers Thome and Sorensen provided television programs and interviews onboater safety to NTV and KNOP.
Officers are still receiving reports of sick deer in the district. The number one complaint coming to the district officers is violations of fish regulations in particular, over bag and keeping short fish. There have been several cases made of no fish permits and duplicating or not having proper turkey permits.
District 5 – Outreach Projects
Outreach programs throughout the month of May involved a couple of major annual events that require additional assistance. Although not located within District 5, events such as the Cornhusker Trap Shoot and the Kearney Expo require additional officers to supplement needed manpower, and officers from District 5 were scheduled to attend both to support the effort.
Some of the additional outreach programs within the District included: intro to archery in Wahoo, three career day interviews with area high school or college students, health fairs attended at the two metro VA hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha explaining the many different outdoor pursuits a person can be involved in at many of our parks, Czechland’s (Prague) annual spring sensation for area schools and a large aquatic education event held at Two Rivers SRA for 160 special education students that Officer Evasco, Barta and Luben attended. Free Fishing Day events held at Two Rivers and Louisville SRAs. Mahoney and Platte River SPs also had family fishing events that officers were assigned to support. The final push on Open Fields and Waters properties is coming to a close; some of the officers have been busy finishing up landowner contacts within their areas.
District 5 – Other Projects / Details
May is always a busy month. The area parks and dam sites experience a huge influx of visits during this time with campers starting to visit, fishing success/pressure increases, nice weather for bicyclists, joggers, walkers etc. Field complaint calls requiring an officer’s response increased this month and focused on the over harvest and illegal take of undersized fish. Even with the ever-changing weather, the area lakes are starting to really take off with good success on crappie and bluegill.
Overall, it was a good season for turkey hunters with plenty of birds to see. Trespass complaints on morel mushroom hunters are not only common but frequent; however, the number of registered complaints seemed down when compared to previous years.
District 6 – Outreach Projects
These numbers are more than triple the previous month’s numbers. Due to the Cornhusker State High School Trap Shoot and the Kearney Expo both large RDR efforts for the district and the Commission, the officers of the district made hundreds of individual contacts with the public at both of these events.
District 6 Other Projects / Details
On May 10, Supervisor Pecha and District 3 Officer Patrick George attended Law Enforcement Memorial services in Grand Island for the 166 officers who have given their lives in the performance of their duties over the past 133 years in Nebraska.
photo: In response to a citizens complaint, Officers were able to locate the individual who dumped these deer carcasses and cited them into court in Sherman County.
Stats Facts and Figures
Free Fishing Day in Nebraska State Park
View All Photos of the Event
Alexandria State Recreation Area:
On May 22nd 2010, we hosted a Kid’s Fishing Clinic and family day. We had 95 kids, 60 adults, and a total of 15 volunteers for a total of 170 participants. Fishing was slow, but the many Carp stirring up the waters entertained many. There were several nice crappies up to ten inches, a few bluegills; a dozen catfish caught from 1 pound up to 2 ½ pounds, and one keeper bass at 2 pounds. The highlight of the day was that we had a hotdog cookout for lunch along with baked beans and potato chips. Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium supplied us with the loaner poles, tackle, posters, etc.
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park:
Free fishing day was successful. Our numbers were up with 109 people visiting our table for free handouts and bait. I would estimate that 20-30 people were fishing that did not visit our table. The breakdown was 64 youth and 45 adults.
Fremont State Recreation Area:
Kid’s Fishing Day was a huge success once again at the Fremont SRA. Many local business, civic groups and volunteers pitched in once again this year to make this event something special. KHUB radio was there to do a live spot at the event. There also were free hotdogs and pop along with a mass of prizes for the kids to enjoy. Fishing success was good this year with many of the youth pulling in bullhead from Lake #3 throughout the day. An estimated 225 youth took part in the event with an event total of 600 visiting the area between 9am and Noon on May 22nd. After the event a scout group from Fremont patrolled the area and picked up garbage left behind by the crowd.
Fort Robinson State Park:
Free Park Day is always popular with not only guests from out-of-state and the surrounding area but also with the youth. One event that draws a nice crowd is the “Kid’s Fishing Derby”. The Derby is open to ages 12 and under and held at Carter Johnson Lake. This young lady caught the first fish of the tournament. The Derby is a great chance for the young and old alike to enjoy a great sport and a little sunshine. A nice sized crowd enjoyed the annual BBQ held on the west lawn of the lodge. Guests not only got a tasty lunch but were then offered free jeep rides into the Cheyenne Buttes.
Victoria Springs State Recreation Area:
We had a great Kids fishing Day. 107 kids registered at the office and 63 adults. They really had a lot of fun. The bluegill and bullheads were very helpful in keeping the kids –and adults happy.
Emerald Ash Borer Awareness
Emerald ash borer (EAB) has not yet been discovered in Nebraska, and education is probably our best tool in keeping the bug out of Nebraska for as long as possible. Most resource professionals in the statewide EAB working group believe it is only a matter of time before it is confirmed in our state. EAB is a serious, invasive pest that will impact our forest and landscape resources when it is discovered in the state.
EAB awareness week was May 23-29. The campaign message again this year was “Burn it where you buy it,” which hopefully encourages our park users to purchase or gather firewood locally and burn it up before leaving for home. Professionals know that firewood can harbor the invasive EAB larvae and the bug can travel long distances in short order as firewood is moved around the country. The Commission does not have a “firewood policy,” so our park visitors can still burn the wood they have brought from home.
Take Pride in America Day
There were 59 volunteers taking part in Take Pride in America Day activities at Branched Oak State Recreation Area on May 8. In past years, this program has been successful and this year proved to be no different. The shop was painted, picnic tables and boards were painted, guard posts in different areas were painted, sign posts were painted and trash was picked up around the lake shore. Almost 40 gallons of paint was used.
Nebraska Parks Make the Top 100 of Reserve America List
Nebraska parks have been chosen by Reserve America for the following Top 100 Campground and/or Outdoor Recreation Awards:
- Amazing Spots– Fort Robinson State Park
- Biking Trails— Platte River State Park, Chadron State Park
- Bird Watching— Ponca State Park, Fort Kearny State Recreation Area
- Canoeing— Ponca State Park
- Educational & Historical Facilities— Fort Robinson State Park, Ponca State Park
- Fishing— Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area, Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area
- Hiking— Fort Robinson State Park, Indian Cave State Park, Ponca State Park
- Kid-Friendly— Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Fort Robinson State Park
- Park Beaches— Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area
- Picnic Areas— Platte River State Park, Niobrara State Park
- Romantic Spots— Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Ponca State Park
- Scenic Views— Fort Robinson State Park, Niobrara State Park
- Top 100— Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Fort Robinson State Park, Ponca State Park
- Tours & Events— Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Niobrara State Park
- Unique Cabins— Fort Robinson State Park
This year, the lists of honorees will be live on Active.com here: http://www.active.com/outdoors/Articles/2010-Outdoor-Awards-Americas-Top-Campgrounds.htm
June 2010 Service Awards
Eunice Hagaman, Parks
Jeanette Morley, Parks
Jeff Rawlinson, Information and Education
James Wurm, Operations and Construction
William Oligmueller, Parks
Bill Booth, Parks
Richard Grimm, Fisheries
Michael Morava, Parks
Lynn Hartog, Administration
A Beyond Becoming and Outdoors-Woman fly-fishing clinic was held May 7-9 at Keller Park SRA, Long Pine SRA and Camp Witness with 12 women in attendance. Commission employees attending were Becky Deterding (District II secretary), Tiffani Gerber (Engineering) and Peggy Kapeller (Information and Education). | More Photos
District Birding Days
District 3 birding day on Wood Duck WMA had 28 participants that located 88 bird species. Special thanks to Dave Heidt, Mark Brogie, Ed Brogie, and Duane Wolff for collecting the Breeding Bird Atlas data and deciphering the chorus. We also found a female ornate box turtle, western hognose snake, and a coyote den with 6 pups taking in the morning sun.
Species observed | More Photos |
Birding Day 2010 was held on June 2 at one of our newest areas, Guide Rock WMA. A total of 14 people enjoyed a few hours of birding on the new area on a beautiful morning followed by our district wildlife staff meeting and the grilling mastery of Rick Souerdyke. A total of 70 bird species were observed. Species observed
MAY 2010 STAFF REPORT
- The results of the Rural Mail Carrier Survey suggest that the harsh winter took a toll on pheasants in central and southeast Nebraska, but other regions fared better. Populations in the southwest, Panhandle, and Sandhills regions still remain well above their 20-year averages and should offer good hunting if weather during the nesting season is fairly normal. Not surprisingly, quail suffered heavier losses from the severe winter, with statewide numbers down 36 percent from last year. Additional mail carrier surveys will be run in July and October to measure reproductive success and refine hunting forecasts.
- Four Project BEAK Educator Workshops are scheduled for May and June. The workshops (Scottsbluff, Gibbon, Bellevue, and Denton) will help teach educators about Nebraska birds, how to go birding, and how to incorporate birds into their curriculum and programs.
- The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project has received two major grants to assist with implementation and monitoring. The Nebraska Environmental Trust has awarded the Project $1.2 million over the next three years, and the competitive State Wildlife Grant program (federal dollars) has awarded $1 million.
- The Natural Legacy Project is being updated this year. We have completed five public input meetings and three conservation practitioner workshops. Feedback on the program has been very good, and we are finding that folks are very educated and engaged in the Legacy Project. Individuals are providing very valuable feedback that we will use to revise the Project.
- We are accomplishing more forest management on our public and private lands in the northwest and north central portion of the state. Public land forest management is being accomplished with the help of the Nebraska Forest Service Cooperative Forestry Assistance Program (federal dollars). To date, we have agreements to do work on Chadron Creek Ranch, Metcalf, Pine Glen, and Bordeaux Creek WMAs. Projects include removal of slash piles, ladder fuel and thinning to prepare for prescribed burns in the future.
- A 450 acre pine forest management private lands project is nearing completion in the Pine Ridge BUL. This project is a partnership between the landowner, Dan Kreitman, the NGPC, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Nebraska Forest Service (NeFS); it is also the largest pine forest management project that the Habitat Partners of District 1 have been involved in to date. We had several goals for this project, including the improvement of forest health and increased plant species diversity, increased benefits for wildlife and providing a centrally located firebreak for wildfire control in the Pine Ridge.