Firewood harvest is usually prohibited at Box Butte Wildlife Management Area but people with authorization will be allowed to collect it Feb. 1-March 10.

Non-commercial firewood users who receive permission from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission may cut and collect any fallen dead timber in specific areas of the property north of Hemingford during the six-week period. Those with the authorization form will receive a map of areas open for harvest and vehicle access, and will be urged to use safe practices while cutting.

Firewood harvest aids in Game and Parks’ habitat management goals on targeted areas of the property that are annually subject to excessive down timber from cottonwoods, willows and other hardwoods. The logs and branches become driftwood and can be a hazard to boats when the reservoir's water levels rise in spring.

The free authorization form may be obtained by contacting Hunter Baillie, Game and Parks district wildlife manager, or Justin Powell, wildlife biologist, at 308-763-2940, or by stopping by the Game and Parks Commission’s northwest district office at 299 Husker Road in Alliance.

Game and Parks offers ice safety tips

A recent spurt of warm temperatures may decrease ice stability across Nebraska water bodies.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission warns anybody venturing onto the ice to be cautious and use the following safety tips:

  • Never go out alone. Have a buddy.
  • A minimum of 3 inches of clear, blue lake ice will support a single person.
  • Use an ice chisel or spud bar to strike the ice and evaluate conditions as you venture out.
  • Have a long throw rope with you in case of emergency.
  • Slush ice is about half as strong as clear lake ice, so people should double the minimum thickness figures when encountering such conditions.
  • Be especially careful on any lake that has moving water in it. Water movement hinders freezing, often leaving hard-to-detect thin spots.
  • Materials imbedded in the ice, such as weeds or logs weaken ice. Large objects on the ice, such as duck blinds or ice shacks, can absorb the sun’s heat and weaken ice.
  • Ice near shore may be weakened by heat from the ground leaving anglers stranded on ice. If temperatures are below freezing, but warm during the day, fish early and leave early before ice melts near the shore.
  • Wear ice picks around your neck in case the worst happens and you need something to grip the ice to pull yourself out of the water.
  • Wear ice cleats on your boots for traction.

Dangers from falling through the ice can include drowning or critical injuries resulting from hypothermia. Keep safety top of mind.