As dry conditions persist across much of the state, Nebraska Game and Parks will close river and stream access ramps to vehicles and other traffic as necessary.

Effective immediately, Flatwater Landing Wildlife Management Area, which sits along the Platte River in Platte County, is closed temporarily to vehicle access. Extremely low water prevents access to the boat ramp by watercraft.

All-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles also are not allowed on the WMA at this time.

Water levels will be monitored, and the WMA will be reopened for vehicle access when water returns to a level that will accommodate access to the river by watercraft.

Additional closures, if necessary, will be reported at

River enthusiasts also are reminded that the land beneath Nebraska’s rivers and streams is private property.

Permission is needed from landowners in order to walk or drive in a wet or dry riverbed, even if it has been entered from a public-use area. Permission also is required to exit a watercraft or to anchor when floating or kayaking down a river.

Take the following precautions to avoid trespassing and a citation:

  • Find access ramps by visiting and searching the Public Boating Areas map.
  • Scout ahead due to low water levels across the state.
  • Seek permission from landowners prior to your trip — no matter whether it’s by vehicle, watercraft or foot. Remember, property boundaries can be difficult to determine.
  • Follow all posted signs.
  • Do not litter.
  • Take care to not disturb fish and wildlife in and around the river or riverbed. Fish and wildlife depend on the river ecosystem.
  • If floating, wear a life jacket.
  • Be respectful to the resource, landowners and the opportunity Nebraska provides.

Landowners who observe trespass should call local law enforcement.

Hunting on state recreation areas begins Sept. 5

Hunters are reminded Nebraska’s state recreation areas are closed to hunting until Sept. 5.

Several hunting seasons open in early September, including archery deer, dove, grouse and other small game and furbearer seasons on Sept. 1. Early teal opens Sept. 2.

Regulations state that portions of some SRAs are open to hunting from the first Tuesday following Labor Day – this year is Tuesday, Sept. 5 – through the end of the spring turkey hunting season, unless restricted.

Standard hunting regulations apply. A park entry permit is required for vehicles entering the SRAs. Parks with managed hunting have hunter check-ins and signs posted at designated hunting areas. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any public-use facility or activity area, including picnic areas, campgrounds, private cabins, concession areas, boat ramps and parking lots.

Additionally, limited hunting is allowed in specific areas of some state parks and state historical parks; find details at; search “state park hunting.”

Wildlife management areas, Open Fields and Waters sites and other public lands also are open to hunting; these areas are listed in the Public Access Atlas available online or in print.

Find these resources, as well as summaries of hunting regulations in the Small Game and Waterfowl Guide and Big Game Guide or buy a permit at

Park guests visiting areas where hunting is allowed are encouraged to use the following safety guidelines:

Know hunting season dates – Applicable hunting dates, species allowed and methods of take are specific to designated park areas.

Know which areas allow hunting – Only limited state park areas and state historical parks allow hunting at specific times. State recreation areas and wildlife management areas often are open to hunting for the full season but are subject to their own restrictions.

Pay attention to signage – Parks and wildlife management areas post signs indicating any additional safety measures parkgoers should be aware of.

Wear bright clothing – While hunter orange is best for visibility, any bright color will stand out. Avoid muted or earthy tones.

Stay on designated trails – Hunters typically avoid well-worn paths; sticking to trails increases one’s visibility. Use extra caution at dawn or dusk. Deer are most active during these times, and low light can make it more difficult for hunters to make out colors or shapes.

Make yourself known – If you hear shooting, use your voice to let hunters know you are in the area. Once he or she is aware of you, be courteous and don’t make additional unnecessary noise that disturbs wildlife.

Opportunities for recreational sports at Nebraska state parks

By Renae Blum

When you think of Nebraska’s state parks, what do you envision? Many might picture outdoor activities like fishing, camping and hiking – and for good reason. But did you know there also are opportunities to play recreational sports such as softball, tennis, sand volleyball, disc golf and more? Read on for details.


Spending an afternoon shooting hoops is a great way to exercise and have fun with some friendly competition. Why not try it in a state park setting? You can find basketball courts at Eugene T. Mahoney and Chadron state parks.

Disc golf

Playing disc golf at a state park allows you to enjoy the beauty and serenity of your surroundings in a unique way. In the west, you can play disc golf at Chadron State Park. In central Nebraska, you can find disc golf courses at Medicine Creek, Lake Maloney and Fort Kearny state recreation areas. And in the eastern portion of the state, you can play at Indian Cave and Eugene T. Mahoney state parks, as well as Pawnee, Branched Oak, Fremont Lakes, Willow Creek and Lewis and Clark state recreation areas.  

Dodgeball and Wiffle ball

Dodgeball isn’t just for gym class; it can be a fun game for adults, as well. Platte River State Park near Louisville has a sports field perfect for a lighthearted game of dodgeball or Wiffle ball.


Have you ever played golf at a Nebraska state park? Perhaps this is your year. You can find golf courses at Fort Robinson, Ponca and Eugene T. Mahoney state parks, and an 18-hole, nationally known golf course is just a few miles away from Niobrara State Park. Bring your friends and your favorite club and give it a try!


Tennis offers a great opportunity to be social while getting exercise and having fun. If you need to release some stress, tennis is your game. Tennis courts can be found at Fort Robinson, Chadron, Platte River and Eugene T. Mahoney state parks.


Have fun building your teamwork and leadership skills during an exciting game of softball. Round up your friends and family and spend some time on the softball fields at Chadron, Platte River and Eugene T. Mahoney state parks and Minatare State Recreation Area.

Sand volleyball

Fun and exciting, volleyball is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. This fast-paced, easy-to-learn sport is one to try at a state park – especially with the chance to feel sand beneath your toes. Lewis and Clark, Two Rivers, Willow Creek, Swanson Reservoir and Summit Lake state recreation areas and Chadron, Niobrara and Eugene T. Mahoney state parks all have sand volleyball courts, and Windmill State Recreation Area has a net positioned on its beach.


A game of horseshoes is a great way to relax after a busy day at a state park. You can play horseshoes at Alexandria, Fort Kearny, Fremont Lakes, Minatare Lake, Rockford Lake, Summit Lake, Two Rivers and Willow Creek state recreation areas. State parks with horseshoes also include Chadron, Eugene T. Mahoney, Fort Robinson, Indian Cave, Niobrara and Platte River state parks, as well as Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park.

A state park entry permit is required; buy one ahead of your visit, and learn more about the parks mentioned here, at

Revised wildlife predator statute takes effect Sept. 2

A revised statute allowing some Nebraska landowners to kill damage-causing wildlife predators becomes effective Sept. 2.

Predators included in this statute are badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, long-tailed weasel, mink, opossum, raccoon, red fox and skunk.

The statute allows a private landowner or tenant to kill a predator preying on livestock or poultry or suspected of causing other damage on land that they owned or control. No permit from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is required.

Also, a landowner or tenant, or agent of either, may kill a mountain lion, without prior notice to or permission from Game and Parks, if they encounter a cougar in the process of stalking, killing or consuming livestock on their property. The person is responsible for immediately notifying Game and Parks and arranging a transfer of the animal to the Commission.

The predator legislation was part of LB 565, an omnibus bill passed in the final days of the Nebraska Legislature’s most recent session, which adjourned June 1.

Landowners interested in Special Landowner Deer Season must update profile

Landowners interested in the Special Landowner Deer Season must access their customer profile and update their land information on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s new permit system, which went live in 2023.

For information on how to complete the process, search for “Landowner Permits” at

Landowners will find these changes for 2023:

  • Land information now is selected using parcel IDs or an interactive map in the “Land Area Summaries” section.
  • Land areas and immediate family now must be listed on the Qualifying Landowner’s profile.

The Special Landowner Deer Season gives a qualifying landowner a three-day season on his or her property preceding the regular firearm deer season.

The $8 Special Landowner Deer Permit is valid only for the three-day season: Nov. 4-6, 2023. It is not valid for the November firearm season, and it is not valid as a Limited Landowner Permit.

The qualifying landowners may designate permits to themselves or immediate family members to hunt on their property only during the Special Landowner Deer Season. A landowner or immediate family member may have no more than one permit per calendar year.

More details about the permit and season:

  • The qualifying landowners and immediate family may have up to eight of these permits for $8 each.
  • The definition of immediate family is spouse, child, stepchild, spouse of child or stepchild, grandchild, step grandchild, spouse of grandchild or step grandchild, sibling sharing ownership or spouse of sibling.
  • No more than two permits may be issued to persons age 19 or older and no more than six permits may be issued to persons younger than 19.
  • The bag limit is one whitetail or mule deer of either sex. The permit counts against the two-buck permit maximum.
  • Only weapons legal for archery and firearm seasons may be used.
  • Permits are valid only on the land owned or leased by the qualifying landowner that is listed on the permit.
  • Residentqualifying landowners must own or lease at least 80 acres of farm or ranch land used for agricultural purpose. No more than one permit can be issued per 80 acres.
  • Nonresidentqualifying landowners must own at least 320 acres of farm or ranch land used for agricultural purpose. Leased land does not qualify. No more than one permit can be issued per 320 acres.
  • Land leased for hunting or recreational purposes does not qualify for landowner permits.
  • Applications are online at and must be mailed or brought into Game and Parks district offices to complete permit purchases.
  • Holders of Limited Landowner or Antlerless Only permits may hunt Nov. 4-6, but only with archery equipment.

For more information, visit or read the Nebraska Big Game Guide at

Lake Ogallala fishery to be renovated this fall

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has announced plans for a fall renovation of the Lake Ogallala fishery. Deteriorated aquatic habitat conditions and declining sportfish populations have prompted this renovation. To ensure safety, some temporary closures will be implemented. 

In late September, the lake water levels will be lowered and an approved fish toxicant will be applied to eliminate the existing fish population. The Lake Ogallala East and West campgrounds will be closed from Sept. 22 to Oct. 23. Boat docks and the fishing dock also will be removed as the water levels drop. 

Once the renovation is completed, there will be stocking of rainbow trout, tiger trout, and yellow perch in the fall, with additional rainbow trout stocked in 2024. 

Collaboration with the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District and Nebraska Public Power District is underway to coordinate dewatering and water releases. Throughout the renovation, water discharge from Lake Ogallala will be prohibited while the chemical is active. NPPD also plans to perform inspections and minor maintenance on dewatered downstream canals. 

Dean Rosenthal, Game and Parks Fisheries Administrator, expressed the importance of managing the fishery to improve aquatic habitat and fishing opportunities. Lake Ogallala's cold-water fishery is unique to Nebraska, facilitated by low-level water releases from Lake McConaughy's Kingsley Dam. Ideal conditions, such as clear water, abundant aquatic vegetation, and thriving invertebrate communities, ensure exceptional growth rates and angling experiences for trout. In addition to trout, species like yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and channel catfish have also found success in the lake. 

Over time, habitat conditions have deteriorated and the sportfish fishery has declined due to an increase in common carp, white sucker, gizzard shad, and alewife populations. Previous renovations in 1969, 1997, and 2009 were followed by rapid improvement in the fishery and angler surveys have documented marked increases in fishing participation. 

This renovation project was first announced in 2022, with additional details shared in March 2023 during Game and Parks’ regional fisheries public meetings. Funding is provided by the Aquatic Habitat Fund and Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration.