Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
LINCOLN, Neb. – Walgren Lake State Recreation Area (SRA), 4-miles south of Hays Springs in Sheridan County, will reopen tomorrow (Oct. 17)…thanks to a community group stepping forward to take over winter maintenance.
Under an agreement with Nebraska Game and Parks approved today, the Friends of Walgren Lake will keep Walgren Lake open and maintained through April 30, when Game and Parks will again take over.
Walgren Lake was one of nearly 30 SRAs and state historical parks that closed Sep 16 in a budgetary move by Game and Parks to redirect staff and resources from sites with limited winter use to reduce a more than $30 million backlog of deferred maintenance needs and comply with environmental and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
“We are thrilled to work with another group of dedicated citizens, who have come forward to keep another park area open,” says Jim Douglas, director of Game and Parks. “We continue to be open to ideas for keeping our beautiful parks accessible to Nebraskans.”
Several communities and community groups have come forward take over maintenance and operations to keep open sites in their areas that are on the winter closure list.
The Friends of Walgren Lake grew out of a public meeting last month that drew some 70 area residents and named a steering committee to negotiate the agreement with the state. Committee member Lloyd Kearns says the final version doesn’t ask local residents to do anything they haven’t already been doing.
The final set of negotiations this week included paperwork for volunteers, who won’t need a park entry pass when working, and clarification that the Friends will be maintaining only the modern restroom by the shelter.
Game and Parks has been encouraging communities and community groups for the past year or more to take over lesser-used parks in their areas all together. Several have and Kearns says the Friends of Walgren Lake may look into that at a later time.