The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says it will make aggressive and costly efforts to clean up state parks and wildlife management areas across the state.
The parks have been affected by the flooding in the central and eastern part of the state and last week’s blizzard to the west. Debris and sediment litters many of them. Others aren’t accessible because of road damage.
“We know our customers want to come visit,” said Jim Swenson, the administrator of parks for the Game and Parks Commission. “We want to move as fast as we are able to and as fast as funding allows us to.”
State recreation areas at Two Rivers, Louisville and Fremont have been among the hardest hit. They will be closed until further notice.
Severe flooding occurred at Oak Valley Wildlife Management Area near Battle Creek, George Syas WMA near Genoa and Schilling WMA near Plattsmouth.
“All equipment was moved from these areas, but the shops and offices have been damaged,” said Alicia Hardin, the wildlife division administrator for Game and Parks. “Other areas will likely have damage to fencing, access roads and parking lots.”
In western Iowa, only Wilson Island State Recreation Area is closed because of flooding.
Funding for cleanup will come out of the regular budget. People have already inquired about helping, and Swenson said that kind of volunteer effort may be considered.
Hardin said the outlook isn’t so tough when it comes to wildlife. The commission has been receiving lots of calls about the high number of deer along country roads and highways, especially near mile marker 428 on Interstate 80 near the Platte River bridge.
Hardin said the animals are OK and will return to their natural habitats as floodwaters recede.
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“These deer have moved away from the floodwaters but do have ways to travel under the Interstate if needed,” she said. “Please do not disturb the deer, they are doing fine.”
It had been a tough winter already for upland birds, and their numbers will be assessed during the regular spring count. Big-game hunting recommendations will be made in April and those could be adjusted. Spring archery season for turkeys starts March 25, but Hardin thinks those birds are OK, too.
Game and Parks will be doing flying surveys out west to check on pronghorns, but the assumption is they just moved south to avoid the heavy snow.
Hunting access this spring could be affected by flood damage, so hunters should call their local Game and Parks district office for more information about specific areas.