Nearly 30 state parks will close as the Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners shifts personnel to complete overdue maintenance.
The board has announced the temporary closing of 24 state recreation areas and five state historical parks. Staff will be re-assigned to reduce an estimated $30 million worth of deferred maintenance and to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The temporary closings will begin in two weeks.
State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln tried unsuccessfully to get legislation passed last session that would provide additional funding to the parks.
“Many, many parks have deferred maintenance issues,” Avery tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “They have all kinds of problems with adequate funding.”
The board says a lack of funding has led it to sell public park land and eliminate 43 positions, about 20% of the staff, over the past five years.
Avery has proposed replacing the Park Entry Permit with a $7 charge on the motor vehicle registration fee. That would generate an estimated $8 million annually for the state parks system.
Avery says the Unicameral must address the funding deficit in the state parks system.
“Because, the need is critical and the money is simply not enough and we have a tremendous treasure in our state parks system; one of the best in the country,” Avery says.
The state recreation areas that will close Sept. 16th and reopen May 1, 2014 are: Blue River, Cheyenne, Conestoga, Cottonwood, Dead Timber, DLD, Keller, Long Lake, Long Pine, North Loup, Olive Creek, Oliver Reservoir, Pelican Point, Riverview Marina, Rock Creek Lake, Sandy Channel, Schramm, Sutherland, Union Pacific, Verdon, Stagecoach, Walgren, and War Axe. Vehicle access to boat ramps will remain open at Riverview, Pelican Point and Sutherland’s Hershey Beach.
The state historical parks that will close Sept. 16th and reopen May 1, 2014 are: Ash Hollow, Buffalo Bill, and Fort Hartsuff. The closure of Arbor Lodge SHP in Nebraska City will be delayed until Sept. 23, following the Applejack Festival, and will reopen April 23, 2014 for the Arbor Day celebration.
Fort Atkinson state historical park and Alexandria state recreation area will close Oct. 7th and reopen May 1, 2014. This is to accommodate Fort Atkinson’s annual living history weekend Oct. 5-6. The delayed closure at Alexandria accommodates services being provided by a concessionaire.