Scout Quest Jubilee Draws 8,000 to Mahoney
Mahoney State Park hosted the Mid America Scout Quest Jubilee Oct. 8-10. There were approximately 8,000 attendees over the three day event.
Activities for the Scout Quest Jubilee focus on the entire family, offering activities for all ages and members. The event featured nationally-renowned entertainment and one of the area’s largest fireworks displays. This year marked the 100th Anniversary of scouting and the event was expanded to include Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. This Jubilee was built on a tradition of two events hosted in past years: Freedom Fest in 2003 and Scout Stock in 2007. The Jubilees are organized every four years, and Scouts from several states attend, including Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado.
The attendees enjoyed camping under the stars and the commaraderie of fellow scouting enthusiasts and mentors as well as planned competitive events that provided ample opportunities for Scout advancement. Mahoney transformed into a tent city with hundreds of camp sites. The camping experience helped teach young people outdoor skills and an appreciation for the environment. The Cub Scouts were thrilled to learn that they were allowed to camp under the wings of a fighter plane.
Entertainment for the event included a stage show Friday night featuring Gallagher and his trademark smashing of watermelons. Saturday was a day-long celebration from the opening ceremonies to activities including guns, scuba, black powder, military displays, and historical re-enactors. During the day, there were Guitar Hero competitions and in the evening American English, a Beatles cover band, was on stage paying tribute to the Beatles.
Eagle Scouts Log 100 Volunteer Hours at Two Rivers SRA
Jacob Carter’s Eagle Scout project converged on Two Rivers State Recreation Area on Oct. 16. Omaha Troop 460, lead by Scoutmaster Steven Carter worked tirelessly cleaning out agressive volunteer mulberry trees and the never ending Virginia Creeper vines. Without the volunteer efforts of the Eagle Scouts the Cedar Trees in the Goldenrod campground would not fare as well. The 100 hours the Eagle Scouts donated to the cause made a huge impact on the area.
Fish Stockings and Samples Run the Gamut from Small to Jumbo
During Oct., trout stocked by Game and Parks seem to get most of the press. But, newly constructed or rehabilitated reservoirs, lakes, and ponds are also stocked in the fall with bluegill. During Oct., the Valentine Hatchery stocked more than 304,000 bluegill fingerlings approximately 1.25 inches long into Lake Wanahoo, Mormon Island West, Kearney Archway Lake, and ponds located in south-central Nebraska.
During the fall, fisheries management biologists also sample fish populations with nets and traps to assess their quality and quantity. This information is used to judge the effectiveness of management practices that include stocking, harvest regulations and habitat improvements. Data collected also are shared with anglers through publication of the fishing forecast, which will be published this winter with updated information.
Among the interesting results this year was the size of the “Jumbo Gray” crappies captured at Mahoney State Park’s Baright Lake. These fish (a sterilized cross between black and white crappie produced at the North Platte Hatchery) do not put energy into reproduction. They have grown to an average size of 13 inches and 1.4 pounds in 4.5 years. White crappie would need seven years to reach that size. Game and Parks seldom samples black crappie this large in small impoundments. Photo of Tony Barada, fisheries management biologist with two jumbo grays
Aquatic Resources Education Association’s Annual Conference Draws Attendees from 21 States
The Aquatic Resources Education Association (AREA) held their annual conference in Omaha Oct. 3-8. The conference was hosted collaboratively by Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska (Andrea Faas, Larry Pape, and Tony Korth). Fisheries Division employees Donna Waller, Keith Koupal, Greg Hartel, Matt Gruntorad, and Keith Hurley also provided assistance. A total of 51 participants from 21 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attended, along with three local students and eleven sponsors.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Workshop
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff members attended the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Workshop held on Oct. 13 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus Union.
The workshop provided the opportunity for agencies to learn about the current status of the AIS program as well as programs from the states of Colorado, Kansas and Iowa.The Nebraska AIS Plan is being considered for approval on the federal level. An Environmental Trust Fund grant has been submitted to allow for increased efforts on boat inspections and decontamination on major reservoirs across the state, and new legislative language is being developed to allow for the development of stronger regulations to address invasive species and create an AIS fund through increases in boat registration fees.
This past year, several of Nebraska’s major reservoirs were sampled for zebra and quagga mussels and so far all of the samples have come back negative. But one invasive species, the Asian Carp, is abundant due to the high water flows on the Missouri River and its tributaries. To learn more about aquatic and other invasive species in our state check out the AIS website: http://snr.unl.edu/invasives (Nebraska Invasive Species Project)
Upland Game Night School
During the month of Oct., the Focus on Pheasants effort in southwest Nebraska concentrated on research activities. Game and Parks staff were trained in capturing pheasants at night under the direction of T. J. Walker, management section district manager in North Platte. The crew captured and banded 152 roosters within the focus area. Hunter reports of these banded birds will help measure harvest rates, hunting pressure and success on these areas. The training and information gained this year also will help Game and Parks gauge the feasibility of more extensive studies of pheasant responses to our habitat and access program projects in the future. (photo by Doug Carroll )
Ghosts and Ghoulies Hit the Grounds for Halloween
Indian Cave saw more than 1000 people visit the park to experience the Halloween activities and see the fall colors. Campgrounds were full and campers decorated their campsites with spooks, pumpkins and lights. The haunted hollow hayrack rides were a big success again with 3,100 riders this year.
Other activities included a scavenger hunt, crafts for kids, a pumpkin roll which had 60 competitive kids roll their pumpkins down a large hill toward the finish line. Headquarters had its share of trick or treaters as well as staff brought their children to “trick or treat” the halls stopping by designated offices to gather loot for their bags.
Don Stubby Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt
The first Don Stubby Memorial Youth Waterfowl Hunt was held on Oct. 22 – 23 near Morrill. This hunt was set up as a district project and targeted youth that had little or no previous hunting experience. The hunt was a cooperative effort that received support from local conservationist Hod Kosman, Ducks Unlimited, Panhandle Region Conservation Club and the Mitchell Valley Trap Club.
The hunt started with a firearms safety presentation and a trap shoot to insure that the participants were comfortable and safe with the firearms. Two of the nine young hunters had never fired any type of firearm in the past but were able to become fairly proficient with the shotguns after some individualized instruction from trap club members.
On the day of the hunt everyone was provided meals and the kids were presented with duck calls and DU hats. Due to the inexperience of the hunters there was only one duck harvested but all the participants had an opportunity to shoot at birds.