A repair project at the Main Ramp Area at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area has been pushed back slightly. Users of that area should be aware of repairs there that will result in temporary closures.

Originally scheduled for June 22-24, the contractor now has rescheduled the work for June 27-29.

Water draining from the pull-through near the ramp area has caused erosion undermining the sidewalk attached to the boat ramp, and immediate repairs are needed.

The boat ramp will be closed temporarily while concrete deliveries are being made. These closures will be brief, and the ramp will open once the delivery is complete.

Boaters may arrive at the ramp and find their boat launching is delayed. Once the work is complete, repaired areas will be marked with traffic cones while the materials are setting. Visitors should not disturb these areas.

Other boat ramps available at Merritt are at Beeds Landing and Powderhorn.

Funding for the repairs is made possible through the Capital Maintenance Funds and Sportfish Restoration Motorboat Access Funds.

Direct any questions to [email protected].

Explore the parks with these Game and Parks events in July

Spend some time this summer in Nebraska’s state parks. During July, a variety of events are planned for those interested in history, conservation, nature and just having a good time. Here are several examples:

Fort Atkinson to host Living History July 2-3

Travel 200 years back in time and experience living history weekend at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park on July 2-3.

On both days, Donald Hickey, a historian of the War of 1812, will present the history of the American flag, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at the Fort Atkinson Council House at 11 a.m. Ice cream will be served at 12:15 p.m. both days near the Council House, followed by a Concert in the Park at 12:25.

A vehicle park entry permit is required. For more information, see the calendar entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Patriotic Quilt Display at Arbor Lodge through July

Nebraska City Blue Star Mothers are hosting a display of Quilts of Valor throughout Arbor Lodge Mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park through July 31.

View this collection while also learning about Morton family veterans and their patriotic service.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the calendar entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Niobrara State Park to host Buffalo Cookout and program

Niobrara State Park will host a Buffalo Cookout with a Humanities Nebraska Program on July 2.

The event is at the Buffalo Cookout Pavilion, with the meal at 6 p.m. and the program, “History of Trick Roping and Wild West Shows,” following.

Reservations must be made by noon July 2. The prices are $15 for age 13 and older and $12 for 12 and younger. Call 402-857-3373 for reservations.

A vehicle park entry permit is required.

Lewis and Clark SRA to feature program about Jesse James

Author and historian Jeff Barnes will present “Bad Man in a Better Place: Jesse James in Nebraska” on July 2 at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area. The program begins at 7 p.m. at the Weigand Picnic Shelter.

Barnes shares what’s known of the truth, the fiction, and the legend of Jesse James in Nebraska.

This presentation is made possible by Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and Game and Parks as part of the HN Speakers Bureau.

A vehicle park entry permit is required.

Learn about geocaching at Niobrara State Park

Learn about geocaching at Niobrara State Park on July 8-9. Enjoy s’mores from 7-9 p.m. at the RV Campground while discovering more about geocaching from Gary and Liz Doerr.

At 9 a.m. July 9, the Doerrs will have more information on geocaching at an event at the Buffalo Cookout Pavilion.

Niobrara State Park has more than 90 caches for beginners to experienced geocachers.

Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas field training July 10

Sign up for field training at 1 p.m. Mountain time July 10 at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area to gain hands-on experience with the Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas.

The Atlas is a community science project aiming to track and conserve bumble bees in the state. Participants will learn the Atlas protocol, including netting, chilling and photographing bees, as well as data recording and entry.

A vehicle park entry permit is required. For more information or to register, visit the calendar entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Red Willow Family Fun Night set for July 6

Red Willow Reservoir State Recreation Area will host Red Willow Family Fun Night on July 6.

A cookout starts things off at 6 p.m. at the Spring Creek boat ramp area, followed by activities from 7-9:30 p.m. near the swim beach. Activities include fishing, archery, kayaking and s’mores.

A vehicle park entry permit is required.

Summer Nights at Schramm is July 21

The Schramm Education Center will stay open late July 21 just for the fun of it, with special activities available from 5-8 p.m.

At 6 p.m., work with a group to solve a mystery by collecting clues outside the Education Center to figure out who stole the Treasured Trout. There will be a guided hike at 8 p.m. to see what is out and about after dark, with the focus on moths.

Schramm Education Center admission fees apply. A vehicle park vehicle permit is not required in the Education Center parking lot. For more information, see the calendar entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Wildcat Hills SRA to host bioblitz July 15-16

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will host a bioblitz on July 15-16, when natural resource experts and community volunteers come together to discover the biodiversity of the area.

The event, designed for the entire family, is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required.

For more information, see the calendar entry at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Western Wildlife Art Show at Fort Robinson July 2-4

Fort Robinson State Park will host the Western Wildlife Art Show July 2-4.

The event will showcase some of the best oil, water and tea paintings, sculptures, baskets, pottery, jewelry and more in the old horse stables at the Veterinary Building. The show will be open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mountain time.

Fort Robinson also will host the 43rd Army Band concert July 2, a barbeque July 4 and the Halligan Agency Ranch Sorting July 9-10. Call 308-665-2900 for more information. A vehicle park entry permit is required.

Merritt to host Nebraska Star Party July 24-29

Take advantage of Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area’s dark skies and enjoy the wonders of the night sky during the 29th annual Nebraska Star Party on July 24-29.

The center of activity will be the large tent on the Observing Field near the entrance to the Snake Campground. Activities at the tent will include meals, constellation talks and door prize giveaways.

For more information and registration, visit NebraskaStarParty.org.

Crofton’s Dam Race is July 30 at Lewis and Clark SRA

The Crofton Dam Race 2022 will be July 30 at Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area. Choose between a sprint triathlon with kayaking instead of swimming, a half-marathon, or a 12-mile bike race.

Registration fees increase after July 23.

For more information or to register, visit croftonsdamrace.com.

Discover Snakes of Nebraska July 30-31 at Schramm

The Schramm Education Center at Schramm Park State Recreation Area will host the Snakes of Nebraska event July 30-31.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln herpetologist Dennis Ferraro and his lab will lead a live snake encounter featuring most of Nebraska’s native snakes from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day.

The event is free, but Schramm Education Center admission fees apply for anyone who also chooses to visit the Education Center. A vehicle park entry permit is not required in the Education Center parking lot. Use the classroom entrance on the left side of the building to visit the event.

For more information, contact Jen Ruyle at [email protected] or 402-332-5022.

Enjoy Picnic in the Park at Platte River State Park

Bring your basket and blanket to Platte River State Park on July 16 for Picnic in the Park.

Provide your own spread or the Walter Scott Jr. Lodge will be open for dine-in or take-out from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., with Steak Night beginning at 5 p.m.

Naturalist activities will be available throughout the day. Registration for a picnic decorating contest is open through July 14. Call 402-234-2217 for more information.

A vehicle park entry permit is required.

Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run donation has $40K impact for Nebraska trails

The Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run, an annual race aimed at raising awareness and understanding of mental health, raised more than $8,000 for Nebraska Game and Parks state park trails.

The donation triggers access to up to $32,000 in matching federal Recreation Trails Program funds.

Event organizers, Shannon and Tim Vanderheiden, Tyler’s parents, and Trudy Merritt of Platte River Fitness Series, presented a check to Game and Parks on June 22 at Platte River State Park.

“Because of their generous donation, Game and Parks is able to take full advantage of Recreational Trails Program funds,” said Jeff Fields, Parks Division Administrator. “The Tyler Vanderheiden Memorial Run will effectively have a $40,000 impact on our trail improvement project at Platte River State Park.”

The memorial funds are being used to support the construction and upgrade of the Platte River State Park trail that leads to Stone Creek Falls. The $1 million in improvements are aimed at making the trail Americans with Disabilities Act accessible.

Runners from every state in the nation — and one person in London and another in Puerto Rico — participated either virtually or in-person in the May 14 race, which brought together hundreds of people united around raising mental health awareness. Participants used the hashtags #PreventSuicide and #Run4TJV when they shared their race stories, memories of Tyler and their connection to the outdoors.

“The generosity of the Vanderheiden family in sharing their deeply personal story and the belief we share with the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation that nature, open space and trails are essential to a flourishing life created a meaning and a message that resonated across the nation,” Merritt said. “Runners from every state, from overseas and across Nebraska came together with one voice to tell those who struggle and those who love someone who struggles: ‘You are not alone.’ 

“This race lives as a reminder that Tyler Vanderheiden’s spirit will continue to move amongst us and improve the lives of others.”

For Shannon Vanderheiden, the annual run was intended to be a space for healing and support for those who struggle with mental health or know someone who has, but in just two years, it’s turned into much more.

“The many texts and messages we received from across our nation before and after Ty’s memorial run brought healing, joy and peace to my heart,” she said. “Our intention of Ty’s race was to be a gift of healing to others; I was not expecting to receive 100-fold back the same gift I was trying to give.

“I am so grateful for the kindness and love others shared through Ty’s memorial run and look forward to sharing this space with all for many years to come.”

The run is organized by the Platte River Fitness Series, run by Merritt, with support by West Central District Health Department, where Vanderheiden serves as executive director.

Proceeds from the annual race will continue to be donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation for the creation, maintenance or upgrade of trails at the 76 state park areas. To learn more about this year’s trail project, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/MemorialRun.