Pictured above, a support team helps map trails at Fort Robinson. From left to right- Jerry Garris, Engineering; Tiffani Gerber, Engineering; Mike Morava, Fort Robinson - Park Superintendent; Fort Robinson’s dog, Copper; Dave Hewitt, Fort Robinson – Assistant Superintendent.
Treckin the Trail with a Trusty Trimble
GIS Mapping Project Ongoing Success Story
If you haven’t ventured out on our website to experience our GIS maps tool (Geographic Information System) then you might want to consider dropping by the site next time you are looking for information about Nebraska parks and trails. What is GIS you might ask? Mobile GIS integrates GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, portable hardware platforms, and GIS software. To facilitate the flow of information to and from the field, mobile GIS solutions leverage advances in wireless technology and the internet. With Mobile GIS, data is directly accessible to field-based personnel whenever and wherever it is needed.
The state of Nebraska and the Game and Parks spearheaded the concept of GIS trail mapping using funding from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants from administrative funds annually awarded through the Federal Highway Administration. The Game and Parks vision was to start with our state parks system and expand to building partnerships with communities along the way, allowing their trails to be included in the mapping for a more inclusive resource of trails for all users. Potentially, non-state maintained trails can be included for a nominal fee as well. This time consuming task of mapping and monitoring the maze of trails would be a daunting task to most but not for the mapping teams who for the last six years have fine tuned the art of trail mapping. READ THE REST OF THE STORY>>
Before the 1900s, Audubon bighorn sheep inhabited parts of western Nebraska including the Wildcat Hills, the Pine Ridge, along the North Platte River to eastern Lincoln County, and along the Niobrara River. It is thought that the Audubon bighorn probably became extinct in the early 1900s with its last stronghold being the South Dakota badlands.
Reintroductions of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (RMBS) have occurred over the last 30 years with three of the four reintroductions occurring since 2001. The current total Nebraska population is estimated at nearly 300 animals.
RMBS are a vulnerable species susceptible to many things such as disease and habitat loss, which impact their population levels. Given these vulnerabilities, Game and Parks continues to monitor herd movements, distribution and the herd’s overall health. This is primarily accomplished through attached radio collars that transmit a signal to a receiver allowing biologists to locate specific bighorns or any uncollared bighorns with them.
As part of the initial reintroduction efforts, bighorn sheep were captured, and fitted with radio collars, in other states primarily through the use of a helicopter and net gun. However, over the last three years, biologists and technicians in the Nebraska panhandle have been using chemical immobilization and drop nets to capture and fit additional radio collars to some bighorns. This effort is part of the overall bighorn sheep management plan for Nebraska and will provide biologists with important data, which will guide bighorn recovery back to their native land.
To view more photos, visit the Panhandle Collection Photo Gallery on Flickr.
Commissioner Closeup – Dr. Mark Pinkerton
If you are like many folks in Nebraska, you may be aware of the Game and Parks and our roles, conservation initiatives and recreation projects that are ongoing in our state. But not many, I would venture to guess, know much about the Commissioners who grapple with the day to day decisions that impact “the Good Life” we strive to maintain and exemplify.
In upcoming postings of the newsletter, we will be providing the opportunity to learn more about our Commissioners with a profile article on each of them. The first in this series of articles is Commissioner Mark Pinkerton.
If you ask anyone what primary trait characterizes Commissioner Mark Pinkerton, it would be that he is passionate and committed. That dedication and follow-through spills over into all aspects of his life and the communities where he grew up, raised his family and calls home today.
He sings barbershop music in a group called the Homestead Harmonizers, a group of 70 men that sing all around the Midwest and hope to perform next summer for a Chicago Cubs game singing the National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” He has coached little league sports for baseball, soccer and wrestling, his sons are active in sports, and his family owns and shows quarter horses. He has served on school boards, rotary groups and chambers of commerce for both Wilber and Beatrice, and he was involved in activities for church work in both parishes as well, serving on the council and as president for a period of time.
In each of these roles, he has left the imprint of his commitment and dependability by successfully maneuvering through the hurdles and obstacles to accomplish the goals set before him. His work ethic stands as a testament to his family upbringing and experiences in the outdoors with his grandfather Commissioner George Pinkerton. View Commissioner Pinkerton’s Photo Album
Sunken Cedars Aid Enders Anglers
In March, the Southwest District Fisheries Management Section sunk 170 cedar trees (8-16 foot tall) into Enders Reservoir. Trees were cut from the surrounding Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and staged near the north boat ramp with assistance from the Southwest District Wildlife Management Section.
Weights were fastened to these trees with assistance from North Platte Fisheries Production, Parks and Law Enforcement personnel. Sinking of the trees was completed with help from a local angler and Rock Creek and North Platte Fisheries Production personnel. A 24 -foot platform pontoon boat was used. This specialized boat was purchased through an Environmental Trust Fund Grant project cooperatively partnered with the Southwest NE United Chamber of Commerce several years ago. Similar brushing projects occur annually and alternate between the four Southwest Reservoirs including Enders, Swanson, Red Willow, and Medicine Creek.
Sunken cedar trees provide woody habitat not typically abundant in Southwest nebraska irrigation reservoirs. These piles may attract fish species who seek woody cover along with anglers. The two piles are located along the east shore south of the boat ramp nearest the dam and are on both sides of the most protruding point at Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates N 40◦25.996’ W 101◦31.539’ and N 40◦25.835’ W 101◦ 31.530’. To learn more about aquatic habitats, visit the aquatic habitat web page . To locate fishing forecasts, stocking reports, fish sampling results and information on lake mapping, visit the Where to Fish web page. To get practical tips from a Game and Parks expert visit Daryl Bauer’s blog Barbs and Backlashes .
“The Gift of Trees”
Plan to stop by Arbor Lodge State Historical Park for the annual Arbor Day Celebration. Tree seedlings will be given to each child and participant in attendance to be planted at home. Special hours for the Mansion will be 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Programs in the park are free. Contact the lodge office for more information. A park entry permit is required.
As home to internationally-celebrated Arbor Day, Nebraska City takes beautiful trees seriously, and 2011 will mark our 139th Annual Arbor Day Celebration. Stop by to participate in the many festival activities that will be available all weekend.
The annual Arbor Day Celebration features children’s educational activities, a parade, craft show, free trees, a 5/10 K run/walk, plant sale, all-you-can-eat chili cook-off, commemorative tree plantings, special award ceremonies, the Discovery Ride at Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure and tours of Arbor Lodge, the home of J. Sterling Morton.
Arbor Day – Commemorative Tree Planting
There will be a commemorative tree planting for Arbor Day Honoree and Tree Planters Award winners (times will be posted at later date) in the 7-Acres Memorial Arboretum on the Arbor Lodge grounds. There will be a Tree Planters and Honoree Reception following the tree planting cermeony at the gazebo on the grounds. Contact the Lodge office for more information. A park entry permit is required.
For more information:
Arbor Lodge SHP (402) 873-7222 firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene T. Mahoney Art Show to Feature 26 Artists
Sat. April 2, 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Sun. April 3, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Known as “The Most Prestigious Art Show On The River,” Loren Goedeken with Prairie Images out of Hebron, has hosted the Spring Platte River Art Show at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park since 1999.
Twenty-six artists representing four different states will be offering their work for sale and viewing at The Platte River Art Show. Some of the artists include Neil Anderson, Russ Duerkson, Russ and Penny Christensen, Stella and Marty Montgomery, Rusty Fritz, Carroll Danbom, Deb Coppell, Virginia Coudron, Jack and Norma Stevens, Marilyn Marsh, Martiena Richter, and Rory Mattson.
Many types of art will be represented including: Wildlife, Landscape, Cityscape, Portrait, Still Life, Native American, Southwest, Americana, Impressionistic, European, Sculpture, Woodcarving, Pottery, Photography, Silversmith, and Antler Carving.
This is a good opportunity to find that special item for your home or office; there are originals for sale or you can buy high quality prints for a good value. Each artist will also donate an item for the silent auction. This is an opportunity to get a high quality item for a bargain price.
All proceeds from the silent auction go to Mahoney State Park. In addition, don’t miss the Great Outdoor Radio Show’s live broadcast Saturday, April 2 from 9-10 a.m. with Greg Wagner in the lobby of the Peter Kiewit Lodge. Tune into 1620 AM, the Zone. Concessions will also be available all weekend from The Potato Hut out of Valentine. They will have many items for sale including: Deep Fried Oreos, Elephant Ears, Funnel Cakes, Homemade Buttermilk Donuts Donut Holes, Potato Ribbons, Curly Fries, Nachos, Big ‘N’ Meaty Nachos, Chili ‘N’ Cheese Nachos, Fresh Lemonades, and more!
Park Landscape Services
Staff members from Park Landscape Services, the Operations Division and Wildlife Division worked on storm damage cleanup at Crystal Lake SRA from Feb. 7-24. This damage was caused by a tornado that hit the park in June, 2009 and had remained closed until clean-up could begin. Fallen trees and branches were gathered in piles for burning. Standing hazard trees were felled, cut up and added to burn piles. An aerial lift unit was used to trim broken, dead and hanging limbs from hazard trees and that material was also added to burn piles as well. Wood that was collected in three burn piles was burned continually throughout the project. The wood which wasn’t burned was buried on site at the end of the operation on Feb. 24.
The park is now safe for entry by the public and other agency staff for further clean-up and repairs.
Cody Mansion Displays Revamped
Over the past year and into the first part of 2011, much work has gone into updating and revamping the display cases in the Cody Mansion, at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park. The inside of many of the cases, which were stained and varnished, were beginning to show age and the artifact arrangement was beginning to look stagnant.
Staff at the park brought these displays back to life by either painting the insides or by lining them with some type of fabric. The artifacts where then placed in a more eye-appealing arrangement and many artifacts that have been in storage for years are now displayed for the public to view. The park also has recently acquired several artifacts from Cody’s great-great grandson, William Cody Boal, that will be placed into another display and added to the display cases already in the mansion. To view some of the displays, visit THE GALLERY >>
The staff at Fort Robinson have moved the Longhorns from their pasture to the ranch in preparation for spring calving. The herd is moved up close to the house where the staff will check on the herd several times a day and into the night.
The longhorn calves average around 40 pounds and don’t tolerate the cold and wet conditions.
The longhorns are moved around the park several times a year to meet the needs of the progams at Fort Robinson, which include breeding, calving, weaning and hunting seasons. The longhorns are rotated through certain pastures at specific times as well, taking into account, moisture levels, pastures that need grazing, over pastured areas, while keeping the herd visible at times for the public. The longhorns are moved using horses 99 percent of the time regardless of the the conditions or time of year.
Take a step closer to your first hunting experience and sign up for a “Learn to Hunt” workshop or clinic open for adults and children 11 years-old and up. These hands-on workshops build on the foundation of hunter education to create knowledgeable, responsible and confident hunters ready to go afield for their first actual hunt. “Learn to Hunt” programs also help you appreciate and respect the wildlife you harvest and the habitats that sustain them. “Learn to Hunt” workshops may even inspire you to “ pay it forward,” mentoring new hunters and sharing the joys of simply being outdoors in nature—even if the “big one” gets away.
Game and Parks Commissioner Mick Jensen and Game and Parks Outdoor Education Specialist Aaron Hershberger updated Ducks Unlimited (DU) members at the state chapter convention in Grand Island about the progress of the Great Nebraska Duck Hunt (GNDH). The GNDH is a new collaborative effort for this fall that will benefit Nebraska youths between the ages of 12-15 years-old.
The program is being developed by DU staff, dedicated volunteers and Game and Parks to empower local DU chapters and committee members to provide the needed opportunities to youth in their area. Each of Nebraska’s 88 DU chapters will mentor at least 10 boys and girls, provide them guidance and modeling behavior that will teach them how to be safe, responsible and ethical hunters.
Some of the activities will begin as early as summer and include projects like decoy painting, preseason preparations and outdoor skills development. For the fall, plans include mentored hunt opportunities and post-hunt social events.
Young hunters would be immersed in experiences that would include shooting practice, interacting with landowners for permission to hunt on their land and learning how to locate the best places to hunt.
Commissioner Jensen focused on the importance of successful partnerships between DU and Game and Parks and emphasized the impacts of these partnerships on the bigger and broader picture of what wetlands and waterfowl means to Nebraskans and our heritage. Jensen also described his own involvement at his local DU chapter and reflected on the importance of the involvement to him and the impact it has had in his own life and that of his children. More than 200 people attended the gathering’s closing banquet, featuring a talk by U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson.
The GNDH is open to Nebraska youth that have successfully completed Hunter Education. Interested youth, of various experience levels should contact their local DU chapter.
Catching up with the COs
Officers were busy through the month with the National Archery in the Schools Tournament, hunter education in the communities and the schools, attending professional training for certifcations and coordinating with landowners and local citizens on issues of concern. Conservation officers followed up on a Crimestoppers tip of illegal hunting of several animals. Through the investigation they were able to determine that a suspect was responsbile for the illegal kill of 10 prairie chickens, three deer and illegal trapping. The charges that were filed included no hunting or fur harvest permit, no habitat stamp, taking deer in closed season, shooting from a public road and wanton waste of game animals.
Officer Dale Johnson of District 6 received a 20-year award for teaching hunter safety. Johnson has actually been teaching hunter safety for the last 35 years.
Keeping up with our conservations officers and their day to day encounters, responsibilities and accomplishments can best be witnessed through the images they submit with their reports each month. Stop by their photo gallery by following the link below:
Former Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area (SRA)Superintendent Daryl Holmberg was honored at the March 18 meeting of the Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners in Lincoln. Holmberg, who retired at the end of 2010, was recognized for his 42 years of service to the agency.
Daryl started with Game and Parks as a seasonal employee in 1968. His time included work in the Wildlife, Operation and Construction and Parks divisions. However, his career was highlighted by a 24-year tenure as park superintendent at Branched Oak SRA and a 14-year tenure at Lewis and Clark.
“Daryl’s accomplishments are many, and he has impacted countless park visitors and coworkers in a very positive way,” East Region Parks Manager Jim Swenson said at the meeting. “Daryl exhibited a passion for his job and was always willing to apply creative approaches to managing his park areas. Many of his management techniques have been adopted by fellow park superintendents.”
In 1996, Daryl accepted the challenge of revitalizing the Lewis and Clark SRA. Daryl, credited his team, but he was pivotal in developing a marina complex that is popular with guests and financially successful. He also led the effort to build 10 lakeside cabins and developed a 4.5-mile trail system at the South Shore area. On two occasions, he restored luster to the Weigand and Burbach campgrounds – the second time after a tornado devastated the park in 2007. Within a few weeks after the storm, Daryl and his team were able to reopen the area for public use. Thanks to his green thumb, new trees are growing and will soon replace those that were lost.
Rydell – New Fisheries Biologist
Starting on April 1, Joe Rydell will be the new Fisheries Biologist in the District office in Alliance. Joe was raised in Flandreau, South Dakota. He received his Bachelor degree from South Dakota State University and his Master’s from Ball State University. The past three years he has worked as a Fisheries Biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Rydell is an avid hunter, angler and trapper. He will be starting the job on the run with his first full week helping with walleye egg collection at Merritt Reservoir.
Will – New Employee with Budget and Fiscal
Steven A. Will is a new employee with Budget and Fiscal Permit Section. Steve has been working the SOS Program with the State of Nebraska the past few weeks before accepting the Accounting Clerk I position with the State of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The Wildlife Division is pleased to announce that Stephanie Nelson will be filling the position of Administrative Secretary for the Wildlife Division in Lincoln. Stephanie comes to Game and Parks with 14 years of experience as an Office Manager for a private organization.
Stop by, introduce yourself and say hello to these new employees when you get a chance.
March, 2011 Service Awards
Joe Kasuske, Parks, March 1, 2011
Daniel Thornton, Parks, March 1, 2011
Kenneth Hain, Operations & Construction
Diana Ward, Budget & Fiscal, March 1, 2011
What’s Coming Up on the CALENDAR
The following is a listing of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission events and activities in April:
April 1-2 – Boater safety class, Hastings
April 1-2 – Bow hunter education class, Ravenna
April 1-30 – Application period for archery paddlefish permits
April 2 – Boater safety class, North Platte
April 2 – Boater safety class, Union
April 2-3 – Firearm hunter education class, Hastings
April 2-3 – Platte River Art Show, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (SP)
April 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 – Firearm hunter education class, McCook
April 5-7 – Boater safety class, Ogallala
April 8-10 – Becoming an Outdoors-Woman workshop, Ponca SP
April 9 – Boater safety class, Omaha, two separate classes
April 9 – Youth shotgun season opens for spring turkey hunting
April 10, 11, 17, 18 – Firearm hunter education class, Hooper
April 12-14 – Boater safety class, Bridgeport
April 15-16 – Boater safety class, Scottsbluff
April 16 – Boater safety class, Omaha
April 16 – Shotgun season opens for spring turkey hunting
April 18 – Application period begins for bighorn sheep lottery permit
April 18 – Application period begins for multi-species Super Tag lottery permit
April 19 – Boater safety class, Grand Island
April 20-21 – Boater safety class, Papillion
April 20-21 – Outdoor Discovery Program, Platte River SP
April 23 – First Shots seminar, Platte River SP
April 24 – Easter Buffet, Eugene T. Mahoney SP
April 25, 27, 29 – Bow hunter education class, Gretna
April 26 – Boater safety class, Ogallala
April 26, 28, 30 – Bow hunter education class, Louisville
April 28-30 – Cornhusker Trapshoot, Doniphan
April 29 – Arbor Day, all Game and Parks offices closed
April 29 – Arbor Day celebration, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park (SHP)
April 29-May 1 – Beyond Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Turkey Camp, Harlan County Lake
April 30 – Arbor Day commemorative tree planting, Arbor Lodge SHP
April 30 – Living history, Fort Atkinson SHP