Applications for paddlefish snagging permits will be accepted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission from July 1-14.

The application period opens at 1 p.m. Central time July 1. Mail applications must be received by Game and Parks’ Lincoln office by 5 p.m. Central on July 14, while online applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Central on July 14.

Two anglers may submit a joint application, but the applicants must both be residents or nonresidents. The lowest preference point total between the two applicants will be used in the draw.

An angler must be 12 years old by Oct. 1, 2024, to be eligible to apply for a snagging permit.

Permits will be awarded through a random drawing based on angler preference points.

Drawing results will be available by July 20.  Applicants supplying email addresses will be notified when the draw is complete. Others should monitor their status online. Successful applicants will have until Aug. 5 to complete the purchase of awarded permits.

Permits awarded but unpaid will result in the applicant losing preference points and forfeiting the permit. Unpaid or unawarded permits remaining after the draw will be made available to the next resident applicants until the permit quota is reached.

In lieu of participating in the draw, resident anglers may purchase one preference point during the application period for $10 and nonresidents may purchase one for $20.

Snagging of paddlefish and nongame fish is permitted Oct. 1-31 in the Missouri River from the Gavins Point Dam downstream to the mouth of the Big Sioux River at mile marker 734 for anglers who have an awarded, unfilled paddlefish tag.

For more information, including an application form, read the 2024 Nebraska Fishing Guide at Watch our tutorial for how to apply to a draw at

To see a summary of the 2023 paddlefish season, visit and search “fish sampling reports.”

Commissioners approve a 2025 mountain lion season

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved staff recommendations for a 2025 mountain lion hunting season at its June 21 meeting in Ogallala.

For the first time, a hunting season will take place in the Wildcat Hills. A Wildcat Hills Unit was created, joining the existing Pine Ridge Unit and Niobrara Unit as areas that allow mountain lion harvest.

The Wildcat Hills Unit encompasses parts of Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Cheyenne, Garden, Kimball, and Banner counties. The objective for the unit is to provide a harvest opportunity for hunters that will keep the lion population resilient while slightly reducing their numbers.

The eastern boundary of the Niobrara Unit also is moved to U.S. Highway 281.

Game and Parks’ genetic surveys in 2023 estimate there are 70 mountain lions in the Pine Ridge, up from the last estimate of 33 in 2021. Surveys that will allow population estimates for the Niobrara and Wildcat Hills are presently being conducted. Twenty-seven mountain lions were documented in the Niobrara Valley during 2023, and 24 were documented in the Wildcat Hills.

Season 1 in all three units will take place Jan. 2, 2025, through the end of February. The season will end immediately in a unit if the annual harvest limit or female sub-limit is reached. The Pine Ridge limit will be 12 mountain lions with a sub-limit of six females, the Niobrara limit will be four mountain lions with a two female sub-limit, and the Wildcat Hills limit will be three mountain lions with a two female sub-limit.

Up to 960 permits could be issued by lottery in the Pine Ridge Unit, up to 320 permits in the Niobrara Unit, and up to 240 permits in the Wildcat Hills Unit. Permits will be available to residents only. An auxiliary season that allows the use of dogs would be March 15 through the end of March if the annual harvest limit or female sub-limit were not reached during Season 1 in any unit. A number of permits equal to the number of lions remaining in the limit would be issued by lottery to unsuccessful permit holders from that unit who apply for the auxiliary season.

To read the proposed regulations, visit and search “regulations.”

In other business, commissioners approved state park regulation changes that:

  • Create a $5 Active-Duty Military vehicle park entry permit for active-duty military personnel stationed in Nebraska. The permit will be for vehicles registered in or out of the state and will be available only as an annual permit starting Jan. 1, 2025. The permit shall be valid through Dec. 31 of the year it is issued. To qualify for the permit, an individual must present a military identification card denoting active-duty status and proof of being stationed in a Nebraska military base.
  • Allow the director of Game and Parks to authorize the replacement of any Nebraska Resident Disabled American Veteran lifetime permit.
  • Update language for state recreation trails, including encroachments on right-of ways.
  • Allow the use of Class I electronic bikes in state parks, state historical parks, state recreation areas and state recreation trails on designated trails unless otherwise posted. Class II and Class III e-bikes will be permitted as posted.

Commissioners also approved these fisheries regulation changes:

  • The no-live-baitfish restriction for Lake Wanahoo is removed.
  • At Two Rivers State Recreation Area Lake No. 5, also known as the trout lake, the time a trout tag is required to fish the lake is shortened by one month. Anglers no longer need to display a trout tag and they may release any caught trout.

In addition, commissioners approved:

  • the transfer of approximately 88 acres of land in Hall County adjacent to Mormon Island SRA from the Federal Highway Administration to Game and Parks to become an addition to Mormon Island; and
  • the permitting of hunting in some state parks and state historical parks for 2024 seasons.

Fisheries staff presented a report on Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala. The relative abundance of walleye at Lake Mac still is good. To maintain the fishery, more than 49 million walleye fry and fingerlings were stocked in 2022 and 2023. Alewife, a prey species for walleye, were sampled in July 2023, and it was estimated the baitfish’s population in Lake Mac was 59,868,702. Staff also reported 46% of the smallmouth bass sampled while electrofishing were Master Angler size.

Before the 2023 renovation of Lake Ogallala, sampling of the fishery revealed 67% of the fish by weight were common carp. One rainbow trout was sampled. Following the renovation, 56,113 rainbows were stocked, and the sampling catch rate for trout and yellow perch is 96 times higher than before the renovation.

Parks staff gave a review of Memorial Day weekend at Lake McConaughy SRA, including visitor demographics, and a look ahead to the Fourth of July holiday.

Staff updated commissioners on outreach taking place in west-central Nebraska. That includes programs such as Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, fishing programs for children, and communications through television, newspaper and Nebraskaland Magazine.

Catch these Game and Parks education events in July

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in July.

Don’t forget to purchase a vehicle park entry permit to enter the state parks, except one is not required to park in the Schramm Education Center parking lot. Get one at or at state park entrances.

Here are some opportunities:

Little Saplings presents Caterpillars on July 3

Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.

The 2024 series, which occurs the first Wednesday of the month, continues July 3 with the theme Caterpillars at 9 and 10 a.m. It is designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult caregivers. The cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult.

See the calendar event entry at for more information.

Venture Parks to host SRA Saturdays

Park educators will be out and about at Nebraska’s state recreation areas along the Platte River on select Saturdays this summer. Visitors are invited to join them.

There will be an observation station and a variety of outdoor activities to explore. Look for the naturalist table and stop by any time between 1 and 3:30 p.m.

The stops will be July 6 at Memphis SRA (meet near the playground and nearby shelter), July 13 at Louisville SRA (meet at the shelter across from concessions), July 20 at Schramm Park SRA (meet at the shelter by the first pond), and July 27 at Two Rivers SRA (meet at the shelter north of Lakeside Campground).

Flock to Birds of a Feather on July 9

Get ready to go birding by participating in the new Birds of a Feather program at 9:30 a.m. on select Tuesdays at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s new James Family Conservatory and Nature Center.

On July 9, the topic for this free, bird-related program for all ages will be Wading into Shorebirds. Learn about the other species of birds, other than ducks and geese, that inhabit the wetlands.

Lake Zorinsky to host Kayak Cleanup

Wildlife and people need clean and healthy spaces to live and enjoy. Join Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor educators July 9 at Omaha’s Lake Zorinsky for a night of service – removing trash from the lake while kayaking.

Trash bags and gloves will be provided as leaders and volunteers clean up trash from 6-8 p.m.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own kayaks, but a limited number of kayaks will be available on a first-come basis. Registration is required.

For more information, including where to meet, and to register, visit the calendar event entry at

Wise and Wild is July 9 at James Family Conservatory

Wise and Wild is a program for those age 55 and up who love the outdoors. It will be at 3 p.m. on select Tuesdays at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park’s new James Family Conservatory and Nature Center.

On June 4, the topic for this free event will be Nature Photography. Bring a camera or smart phone and learn the basics of nature photography.

‘Science of’ virtual webinar series returns in July

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s popular “Science of” virtual webinar series returns in July.

On select Thursdays at 3 p.m. Central time, Game and Parks educators will discuss some of the science behind common things regarding nature and animals.

The hourlong webinars are free, but separate registration is required for each. See the calendar event entries at for registration links.

The webinar schedule of topics: July 11 – The Sandhills; July 18 – Ticks.

The webinars will be recorded and posted to the Nebraska Game and Parks YouTube Education Channel.

Contact [email protected] for more information. Check out the events on Game and Parks’ Facebook page and the Nebraska Project WILD Facebook page.

Curious Caterpillars program is July 13

Quality time in nature has several benefits for young children. It increases creativity, problem-solving skills, and intellectual, social and physical development. Adults benefit, too. Come to Lincoln’s Mahoney Park on July 13 for the Curious Caterpillars program.

This free, two-hour program, at 9 a.m. at Shelter No. 1 near the entrance, is designed for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. There will be a nature discovery area, live animals, a wildlife habitat station, and a nature crafts station.

See the calendar event entry at to register. For questions, contact Kara Kniep at [email protected].

Apply for Master Naturalist Training

Complete the weeklong training to become a certified Nebraska Master Naturalist. This Complete Training July 14-20 is at the Niobrara Valley Preserve north of Johnstown.

Content areas can include natural resource interpretation, conservation biology and ecology, outdoor skills, resource management, community science, reptiles, amphibians, turtles, mammals, insects, aquatic ecosystems, geology, grasslands ecology, woodland ecology, and human dimensions/naturalist ethics.

The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program is an adult conservation and environmental education program combining indoor presentations and hands-on field experiences to teach conservation volunteers about Nebraska’s natural resources.

For more information or to apply, visit the calendar event entry at Email any questions to [email protected].

Homeschool Hikes set for July 17 at Schramm

Homeschool families are invited to join an outdoor educator on a guided hike at Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna during the Homeschool Hikes program at 9 a.m. July 17. This month's theme is Frogs and Toads.

Homeschool Hikes is a monthly nature exploration program hosted by the Schramm Education Center geared toward homeschool families and ages 5 and up.

Participants are encouraged to RSVP in advance through the event listing at

Burrowing owls subject of Nebraska Master Naturalist webinar

The Master Naturalist Mondays virtual webinar series continues at 12:30 p.m. Central July 22 with Burrowing Owls: Getting to Know the Critter on the Nebraska Master Naturalist Logo.

Presenter Jason Thiele, a wildlife biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, will discuss the history of burrowing owls, provide tips for finding and observing them, and suggest possible ways to benefit them based on research.

Nebraska Master Naturalist is a statewide volunteer conservation program. The program recruits, trains, manages, and provides resources for our volunteer naturalist members. This free webinar series hosts a variety of presenters and subject matter. It allows Nebraska Master Naturalist to connect to its conservation motivations and inspirations and its naturalist community across the state.

For more information, to register, or find previously recorded webinars in the series, visit the calendar event entry at Email any questions to [email protected].

Facilitator training to be held in Norfolk

Training is available for facilitators in the curriculums of Project Learning Tree, Project WET and Project WILD.

This training July 23-24 at the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District in Norfolk will equip participants to lead professional development events for early childhood, K-12, and nonformal educators centered on the trusted, quality Project Learning Tree, Project WET and Project WILD suite of curriculum.

See the calendar event entry at for more information. Email [email protected] with questions.

Experience Moth Lighting Bioblitz at Schramm

In celebration of Nebraska Moth Week, Schramm Park State Recreation Area and the Nebraska Extension are hosting a Moth Lighting Bioblitz from 8:30-10:30 p.m. July 27.

Learn about Nebraska moths by observing them and other nocturnal insects attracted to a light at night and help collect data about insect diversity in the park.

The iNaturalist app will be used to document the species encountered, and data collected will contribute to the Biodiversity in Nebraska State Parks initiative.

The event is free. Meet at the Education Center.

July packed with fun events in northwest state parks

Spend some time this summer in Nebraska’s northwest state parks. During July, a variety of events are planned for those for all ages and interests.

Don’t forget to purchase a required vehicle park entry permit to enter the state parks. Get one at or at state park entrances.

Fort Rob to host Fourth of July celebration

Come to Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford for a celebration of Independence Day on July 2-4.

Enjoy the 51st Western and Wildlife Art Show on July 2-4 at the Fort Robinson Veterinary Hospital. This free event will be open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mountain time July 2-3 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 4.

The Children’s Wall of Art Contest will take place from 10 a.m.-noon July 3. This popular art contest is for children ages 2 to 18 years old. There is a $5 registration fee. Awards will be presented at 1 p.m. after the judge selects three winners in each age group.

From 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. July 4 at the Fort Robinson Restaurant, a buffet of fried chicken, green beans, au gratin potatoes, potato salad, dinner rolls, coffee, tea and lemonade will be served. The cost is $18.

From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the west lawn, barbecue burgers, potato salad, baked beans, tea, water and lemonade will be served. The cost is $12.

Buffalo Soldiers of the American West demonstration July 6-7

Step back in time and enjoy the historical cavalry demonstration Buffalo Soldiers of the American West on July 6-7 at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford.

The program will include a flag presentation, mounted and dismounted cavalry drills, manual of arms, saber drills, and a history of the Buffalo Soldiers. They will have a tent camp set up where the public may interact with the reenactors, see historical artifacts and purchase souvenirs.

This one-hour demonstration is at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. July 6 and 10 a.m. July 7 at the Mare Barn Equestrian Center. Admission to the activity is free.

Wildcat Hills bioblitz set for July 19-20

Join natural resource experts and volunteers in discovering the biodiversity of the Wildcat Hills at a bioblitz July 19-20 at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center.

This free event is designed for the whole family but not dogs, which are not allowed as they might disturb wildlife.

There will be a bighorn sheep hike at 7:30 p.m. Mountain time July 19. Registration is required. The following day’s schedule includes a bird outing at 9 a.m., wildflower walk at 10 and insect program at 11.

For more information, call 308-436-3777. Register for the hike or get more details at the calendar event entry at