Two Curtis Families Lauded at National Pheasant Fest
Dorris and Jerrod Burke, along with Stan and Marilyn Pilcher of Curtis, NE, were recognized by Pheasants Forever for their commitment to conservation. The Burkes and Pilchers were also thanked for their land stewardship by Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, as part of a press conference to announce Pheasants Forever’s enrollment of 3,000,000 acres of habitat participation in Nebraska.
The Burke and Pilcher families were recognized as two of 14 Nebraska families across the state that contributed to the record number of habitat acres impacted by Pheasants Forever since 1987. Nebraska is the first state within the Pheasants Forever organization to reach the 3,000,000 enrolled acre accomplishment.
Some of the habitat programs and accomplishments the two families were recognized for include: a family farm land that is enrolled into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Corners For Wildlife program, performing wildlife management practices that include the use of prescribed fire, planting winter cover food plots, and planting shrub thickets. In addition, Jerrod serves as a commissioner for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Stan is a past recipient of the 2008 Master Conservationist of the Year award. Their local Pheasant Forever chapter, the Medicine Creek chapter, will be holding its 20th anniversary banquet will be held in Stockville on April 2.
In addition to staffing an information booth, NGPC hosted several educational offerings for youth at the 2011 Pheasant Fest at the Qwest Center in Omaha. Nearly 24,000 people attended the weekend pheasant extravaganza. The archery range was a huge hit with families and youngsters gathered in lines to shoot. The archery range layout offered both target and 3D targets and participants enjoyed learning about shot placement for hunting, how to shoot a bow, range etiquette and more. In the words of one young participant… “this was really cool!”
Today, Nebraska boasts 60 Pheasants Forever chapters, Four Quail Forever chapters, 10,000 members and spends over $3,000,000 in the state each year on habitat projects, habitat equipment and youth education. For more information on accomplishments and habitat programs in Nebraska, log on to: www.NebraskaPF.com
State of the Art Shooting Complex Slated to Open in April
The new Platte River State Park Outdoor Heritage Facility is scheduled to open its doors on April 16, 2011 if all goes as planned. The Commission has expanded its efforts to lead youth and families to nature based outdoor recreation. Several thousand individuals and families are introduced to hunting, shooting and aquatic sports each year through expos, family camps and other educational events sponsored by NGPC and various partnered agencies. Unfortunately, once the workshop is over, many of these students have no place to continue fine tuning these newly acquired skills. Thanks to funding provided by the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, National Parks Service-Land and Water Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, Nebraska Family Campers and RVers, Archery Trade Association and other partners, this new facility will allow NGPC to further implement Recruitment Development and Retention programming and allow visitors to continue participation in various outdoor pursuits by providing a well-equipped and familiar facility that will appeal to families and youth of all ages. The benefits to Platte River State Park will be a new network of park visitors drawn by the quality and diversity of this new facility.
The range consists of a 60-yard archery range with shooting tower and a 50-yard small bore rifle range. Both of these ranges have a picnic shelter design so participants are “undercover” when shooting. There is also an indoor pellet gun range that features five lanes of paper targets with retrieval system on one side, and five lanes with a shooting galley style on the other side. In the near future a shotgun range will be completed as well as lake improvements, fishing access and a put in/take out point for kayaking and canoeing.
Located between the states two most popular camping destinations Eugene T. Mahoney and Louisville State Park, visitors can bring their own shooting equipment or rent items from the park. Programs will be scheduled throughout the year for people of all ages. Here’s a PHOTO GALLERY with some additional photos
Tentative Scheduled Events
April 23 & July 16: First Shots Event
April 20 & 21: Outdoor Discovery Program
May 3, 10, 17 & 24: Beyond BOW Archery Class
May 21: Free Fishing and Park Entry Day
May 21-22: Becoming an Outdoors Family
June 4: Learn to Hunt Workshop
June 8, 15, 22 & 29: Beyond BOW Shotgun
June 18: Becoming and OutdoorsMAN
August 26-27: Women in the Outdoors
Construction is complete on eight of the new mini-lodge cabins at Ponca State Park and another seven are near completion and should be available for the summer of 2011. If you haven’t seen these welcoming cabins take some time to view this photo gallery before you make your summer vacation plans.
These recently built mini lodges consist of four-bedroom units and are designed to complement conference room rental within the Resource and Education Center – creating a campus type atmosphere.
Along with their lodge-like look and feel, the amenities include wireless internet, cable TV, a fireplace, scenic patios and are near a hike/bike trail and fishing pond in close proximity. The mini-lodges make a perfect get-away for the family gathering or workplace meeting.
Check out the view of the inside of these cabins in this PHOTO GALLERY
Did You Know … The Number of Parks on FACEBOOK is Growing
You may not have noticed but the number of NGPC Parks available on facebook has been growing. So why not stop by and see what the parks have been up to and while you are there help us grow our fan base by locating the LIKE button, or sharing the site with your friends list. They can find great park information and updates on our Facebook pages.
For six weeks, late February to early April something magical happens in the heart of Nebraska. More than 80 percent of the world’s population of sandhill cranes converges on Nebraska Platte River. The sandhill cranes travel from southern wintering grounds to northern breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They stop along the Platte to rest and gain body fat for a month as they prepare for their journey. Fossils of wing bones dating back 9,000,000 years have been discovered in Nebraska. Whooping cranes, eagles, ducks, geese, and shorebirds are among the other wildlife that migrate through central Nebraska during February and March.
Call 1-800-652-9435 today for an annual crane packet.
The easiest way to set up your crane viewing experience is to contact the Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary, known as one of the premier destinations in North America for bird watchers and nature lovers alike. The sanctuary offers guided trips during March and April to view the sandhill cranes from observation blinds on the banks of the Platte River. Another option is to visit the Fort Kearney Recreational Area hike/bike bridge at either sunrise or sunset. The bridge is 300 yards from the parking area and offers a great view of the river.
A damaged bridge along the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail three miles west of Norfolk has been removed. Flooding of the Elkhorn River last June washed out the bridge and damaged other sections of the trail.
There are plans to replace the iron bridge with a less expensive pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge. Grant funding is in place from the Recreational Trails Program, Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail Fund and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist with renovation of areas that suffered the most damage. The reconstruction timeline is unknown, but reports on work progress and completion will be made available to the public on our website as it occurs.
Because of the flood damage, the trail is closed to all users from Norfolk to O’Neill. A stretch of 123 miles from O’Neill to Valentine is open.
The Cowboy Trail is the country’s longest rail-to-trail conversion and Nebraska’s first state recreational trail. The old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad right-of-way was accepted as a donation from the Rails to Trails Conservancy in 1994. The trail traces the route the railroad took from northeast Nebraska to South Dakota’s Black Hills.
For more Cowboy Trail information, photo gallery, brochures, history, trail distances and amenities visit the Game and Parks Cowboy Trail web page.
Completion of $525,000 Hedgefield Reservoir W.M.A. Rehabilitation Project To Bring Improved Fishing and Water Quality
Hedgefield Reservoir is now refilling following completion of a joint motorboat development and aquatic habitat project. The project was initiated when the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District was required to upgrade the flood control abilities of the dam, necessitating a complete draw down. The activities of this project provided a prime opportunity to make improvements to the fish habitat, angler and boating access features of the Wildlife Management Area.
The rehabilitation project will improve fishing and water quality in the reservoir, as well as provide additional flood control benefits for downstream residents. Anglers will find a few fish to catch next fall, but it will be approximately two years before the fish will be large enough to be harvested. The area is currently open to the public for hunting.
The project was funded by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Aquatic Habitat and Angler Access Programs, Federal Sport Fish Restoration, Motorboat Access Program, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust at a cost of $525,000.
Major components of the project included: deepening, with the excavation and removal of nearly 70,000 cubic yards of sediment; construction of a sediment trap on the upper end of the reservoir, and several new breakwaters to protect shorelines; a new concrete ADA accessible boat ramp and fishing jetty; numerous fish habitat enhancements (islands, underwater shoals, channels, bottom sculpting); removal of rough fish populations, and replacing them with largemouth bass and bluegill; and improved parking on the west side of the facility.
The presence of thick ice on our lakes and reservoirs provides the opportunity to add fish habitat that will attract and concentrate fish so they are more available to anglers. Fisheries Division employees, the Missouri River research crew, and staff from headquarters were joined by Wildlife Division employees for a “brushing” project at Stagecoach Reservoir during January. Approximately 300 trees, cut down by the Parks Division, were weighted and moved onto the ice. The trees will sink to the bottom of the reservoir once the spring thaw occurs and will attract fish, including crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. Learn more about ways to enhance fish habitat on the Game and Parks web site.
Missouri River Public Use Assessment
Results of a study conducted in 2004 and 2005 by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission were presented to Game and Parks staff by the Missouri Department at a Jan. 6 meeting in Lincoln. The study determined the types, amounts, and economic values of outdoor recreational activities on and along 811 miles of the Missouri River, from GavinsPointDam to St. Louis. Over a 13-month period, more than two million visits occurred, generating $39 million in economic benefits. Sightseeing, fishing and boating were the top activities. Here is a link to the Study highlights
Interested in learning more about the Missouri River conservation efforts? Visit the Missouri River Recovery Program web site.
National Wild Turkey Federation Superfund Projects
The Nebraska Chapter of NWTF has awarded Game and Parks $57,500 for conservation projects across the state. The projects range from the purchase of skid loader, prescribed burning equipment, habitat enhancements, to a shared Forester/Biologist position that will be housed in northwest Nebraska. These projects will all have a positive effect on turkey habitat management and hunting opportunities. The non-federal dollars will be matched with other federal grant dollars to best utilize the budget monies for efficiency in the implementation of our projects.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission-fisheries division hosted the 6oth annual Great Plains Fishery Workers Association meeting in Sidney, NE from Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2011. The Great Plains Fishery workers association is comprised of fishery and aquatic biologists from six states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado) and three Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta). The members of this organization are responsible for the management of the fishery and aquatic resources within their respective state or province. The meeting had representatives from each state. An estimated 55 students, fishery biologists, and hatchery professionals exchanged ideas, management activities and special projects with the group to promote better fishing and quality fishing opportunities across the Great Plains region. The meeting also included a fish fry put on by Nebraska Game and Parks staff and a raffle and auction with items solicited from each state. Nearly $1000 was raised by the raffle and auction items which will go towards a scholarship at the University of Nebraska for persons interested in a fishery related field.
The final weekend of the 2010-2011 deer season brought the opportunity for women to experience the challenge and excitement of late-season deer hunting in Nebraska as part of a Beyond BOW Deer Camp. These camps are designed to connect like-minded, adult women with opportunities to experience the outdoors in a manner that is fun and personal as they equip themselves with the skills and know-how to be successful – beyond just the harvest.
This program has become an end-of-the season tradition thanks to the Bill Baxter and Mike Beach Families that have made Cedar Ridge Deer Camp a top-notch facility in Saline County. Bill Baxter Sr., a former employee of NGPC, wanted his family farm to become a place of education through mentored hunts and emphasis on conservation practices – Bill Baxter Jr. has helped make this possible by the creation of a parent-child deer camp during the Nov. rifle season and by opening the camp to a Beyond BOW Deer Camp during the late antlerless season.
One such person that took advantage of the Deer Camp opportunity was Shannon, of Omaha – originally from Arkansas. Shannon harvested her first Nebraska deer. Shannon’s hunting style & reasons for hunting may have been quite different back in Arkansas – but thanks to experiences like this one she is hooked once again on the experience.
For more photos of the workshop view the PHOTO GALLERY
Check out all the Beyond BOW opportunities at :
http://www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov/Education/programs/bow/beyondBOW.asp and by logging on to the Nebraska BOW Facebook Page
A wildlife crime stoppers call resulted in the arrest of an individual that had taken a swan while goose hunting. Officer Arp responded to the complaint and discovered the swan in a large plastic bag in the back of a vehicle.
Looking for a complete overview of specific fines and penalties for taking wildlife illegally?
Here’s a list of all fines and penalties that can be assessed in the state of Nebraska, including Game and Parks violations.
To report a game violation call Wildlife Crimestoppers 1-800-742-7627
Check out the conservation officers photo gallery to keep up with their day to day encounters, activities and unusual situations.
Internationally Exhibited Artist
In addition to her 13 years with Nebraska Game and Parks as a graphic artist, Donna Schimonitz is an award winning, internationally exhibited artist and current president of the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs.
A graphic design graduate from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Schimontz spent her childhood years exploring the family dairy farm and nearby Loup River on her Welsh Arabian pony, Dapher. Her childhood experiences and her mother, who is also an artist, provided the St. Paul native with a lifetime of inspiration and curiosity for her intricate depictions of nebraska wildlife. The often overlooked world of insects captivates her. Moths and grasshoppers are among the subjects she depicts in a selection of appropriate mediums like acrylics, graphite, watercolors, ink and digital renderings.
“Living in Lincoln, near the habitat of the state and federally endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetle has brought my attention to the importance of a balanced ecosystem and all the creatures that live within it.” Schimonitz said.
See Schimonitz’s Work
The four-time Nebraska Artist Medal recipient will be showing at StuhrMuseums annual Wings Over the Platte show in Grand Island February 25 – April 10. The Wings Over the Platte Art Exhibit and Sale is the region’s largest art show focused on life on the Platte River and its tributaries, Wings Over the Platte features dozens of artists, hundreds of pieces and massive variety.
Pheasant Fest Recognition Awards
Marilyn Tabor, center, recieved recognition from Game and Parks for her outstanding efforts promoting the ideals of wildlife conservation and successful partnerships. Marilyn provided the integral support and administration for many grants and partnerships in the state. The recognition certificate stated that in her role she created a legacy of better wildlife habitat, land stewardship and youth education in the state.
John Laux, pictured on the right, recieved the 2011 Wildlife Professional of the Year for his years of dedicated service, commitment and efforts to improving the wildlife habitat in Nebraska and developing strong conservation programs and generous support of Pheasants Forever.
Greg Wagner was selected for excellent work promoting efforts on his radio show. Some of those examples would include: promotion of general CRP signups, enrollment in USDA conservation programs, Pheasant Fest, habitat management techniques, getting youth involved in the outdoors, attending Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever events. His support has impacted many landowners in the state and he serves as an authority on promoting great wildlife habitat. His energy and enthusiasm allow him to impact a broad spectrum of Nebraskans – from young to old, and rural to urban – they all listen to Greg and his message.
Bob Allen, center, received the Long Spur Society Special Recognition Award for his years of support and dedication to the wildlife habitat. His conservation efforts were acknowledged for their impact on wildlife habitat and forging new partnerships in central Nebraska.(Pictured on the left is Game and Parks Commissioner Lynn Berggren and on the right is Drew Larsen Pheasants Forever wildlife biologist.)
The Long Spur Society awarded the Master Conservationist of the Year to Shawn O’Connor for dedicated service, commitment and efforts to improving wildlife habitat in Nebraska as well as his generous support of Pheasants Forever efforts. [ Shawn O’Connor (right) receiving the 2011 Master Conservationist of the Year award from Jerry McDonald (left), PF Regional Representative. ]
Shawn was one of 13 landowners from across the state that were recognized as being part of Pheasants Forever’s 3,ooo,ooo acre celebration at Pheasant Fest. Shawn is enrolled in many conservation programs on his family farm. Some of those conservation programs include: CRP, Continuous CRP (CP33 and CP38), and local Pheasants Forever programs. In addition, his property is used a site for landowner habitat tours where wildlife management practices and conservation program results are demonstrated to other landowners.
Shawn serves as the President of the Central Nebraska Prescribed Burn Association, President of the Cedar River Ringnecks PF chapter, and an officer of the Nebraska Pheasants Forever State Council. He truly represents the ideals of the award by ‘exporting’ his ideals and conservation philosophy to other landowners in the area.
JANUARY 2011 Service Awards
Brian Perks, Wildlife, 1-2-11
Linda VanHorn, Parks, 1-3-11
Daniel Kling, Law Enforcement, 1-4-11
Adam Offner, Parks, 1-9-11
Joel Jorgensen, Wildlife, 1-30-11
Eileen Halter, Administration, 1-30-11
Darlene Kastl, Boating, 1-2-11
Kris Robertson, Parks, 1-22-11
Michael Remund, Wildlife, 1-6-11
Eugene Hunt, Parks, 1-1-11
Gerald Coates, Fisheries, 1-1-11
FEBRUARY, 2011 Service Awards
William Garvey, Fisheries, 2-1-11
Stephanie Bokelmann, Permits, 2-5-11
Stephen Wilhelm, Fisheries, 2-11-11
J. Dirk Higgins, Fisheries, 2-15-11