New Mahoney cabins, McConaughy campground upgrades part of Heineman budget


LINCOLN — Cash for new cabins and refurbished campgrounds at two Nebraska park areas is squirreled away in Gov. Dave Heineman's proposed budget.

The $1.7 million proposal would build three new lodge-style family cabins at Mahoney State Park between Omaha and Lincoln and finance significant campground upgrades at Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area near Ogallala in western Nebraska.

Heineman unveiled the proposal Thursday at the State Capitol in a press conference with officials from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

“Tourism is important in Nebraska, and these strategic investments will help meet the current demands at two of our outstanding, popular state parks,” Heineman said.

Each destination counts about 1 million visitors each year. Mahoney is the state's second busiest tourist attraction, behind Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.

Jim Douglas, director of Game and Parks, said the improvements would pay great dividends for all Nebraskans and visitors.

Mahoney's new cabins would be similar to structures opened in recent years at Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska, Douglas said. The modern, full-service structures would have six bedrooms capable of sleeping 12 people, three full bathrooms, a great room with wood-burning fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, basement and a deck with a scenic view. They would be available year-round.

The park's current 54 housekeeping cabins are nestled on secluded, wooded ridges. Sizes range from two to six bedrooms.

Lake McConaughy is the state's largest reservoir. The North Platte River recreation area and its white-sand beaches attract about 70 percent of its annual visitors from the metropolitan Denver area.

McConaughy's improvements are targeted for Lone Eagle and Cedar Vue campgrounds on the north side of the lake.

Lone Eagle, near the dam, would have 84 camping sites with water and sewage hook-ups and 50-amp electrical connections.

Cedar Vue, near the western end of the lake, would receive equestrian-friendly accommodations with corrals, water and feed bunks at 35 of its 60 camping sites. The project also would provide 20 full-service pads and 40 electrical sites.

“These improvements will allow Nebraska to meet the needs of horse-riding enthusiasts and extend our recreational opportunities well beyond our normal peak months,'' Douglas said.

Douglas said construction on both projects could begin this summer and be completed in 12 to 18 months.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1127,

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