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Serving: NE
NRDs Improve District Recreation Areas

NRDs Improve District Recreation Areas

Projects provide flood control, boating, camping and fishing.

This summer five of Nebraska's 23 natural resources districts opened new recreation areas or re-opened existing ones are renovations. The districts with new or renovated areas are the Little Blue, Lower Big Blue, Lower Elkhorn, Nemaha and Upper Big Blue. These areas offer a variety of outdoor recreation activities including; fishing, hiking and camping.

"In addition to providing much-needed opportunities for outdoor fun, NRD recreation areas are often built and operated to meet multipurpose needs", says Mary Ann Wortmann, the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) board president.  "NRDs combine recreation facilities with other purposes, including flood control structures to protect lives and property, wildlife habitat enhancement, prevention of soil erosion, aide in sediment control, provide wetland renovation, other important conservation activities and provide local outdoor experience."

Here's a brief description of the new or renovated recreation areas:

Little Blue NRD: Liberty Cove recreation area near Lawrence and Lone Star recreation area near Strang were renovated in 2011 to include new camper pads. Both recreation areas offer fishing and camping and Liberty Cove has 1.4 miles of walking trail that tours around the lake as well as Lone Star walking trail. 

Lower Big Blue NRD: The Big Indian Lake improvement project near Odell has been completed and the recreation area was officially re-opened in June, 2011. Several new additions have been added to the lake, including an emergency helipad, three sediment dikes, four maintenance breakwaters, nine in-lake breakwaters, plus fish shoals and scallops have been constructed.  Visitors to Big Indian Recreation Area will also notice improved shoreline stabilization, improved access, a new boat ramp, boat dock, handicap-accessible restroom, additional and improved camping areas and a new beach with the swimming cove protected by breakwaters. 

Lower Elkhorn NRD: The new Maple Creak Recreation Area near Leigh opened in May of this year. The 160-acre reservoir's primary purpose is flood protection for the south side of Leigh, downstream bridges and landowners along the west fork of Maple Creek. The reservoir is divided by highway 91, which was raised to create a sediment retention/wetland area to provide good water quality and extend the life of the reservoir.  The recreation area includes camper pads, a swimming beach, a walking/biking trail, fishing, boating (5 mph limit, no wake), and picnic shelters. 

Nemaha NRD: At Iron Horse Trail Lake near DuBois, renovations include tree clearing, sediment removal and construction of sediment traps to slow the movement of new sediment into the lake. Fishing will be available but angers will have to wait a couple of years for newly stocked fish to reach catchable size. Incorporated into the renovation work were improved fish habitat, fishing access points that include a handicapped accessible fishing pier, a boat-mooring island near the beach and walking trails. While the park was closed for renovations, the NRD also added 11 electrical camping hookups and developed a new, primitive RV and tent camping area.

Upper Big Blue NRD: The completed upgrade project at Recharge Lake near York consists of 12 new camping pads, an RV Dump Station, a refurbished day use area, dedicated tent camping area, outdoor amphitheater with tiered-seating, new restrooms, two new picnic shelters with picnic tables, cooking grills, and fire rings. These upgrades and new amenities complement the already established hiking and biking trails, playground equipment, boat dock and boat ramp.

To learn more about these areas or other NRD recreation areas, visit, a new interactive website that allows you to search dozens of outdoor recreation areas for camping, fishing, a family picnic, hiking/biking and wildlife viewing. The website allows you to search for recreation areas by NRD, highlight an activity at a recreation area such as boating or fishing, or find a lake with a specific type of fish.

Source: Nebraska Association of Resources Districts

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