OGALLALA - Boaters have a new way to access Lake McConaughy thanks to a new entrance at Martin Bay.

According to the Keith County Visitors Committee, the new Martin Bay entrance opened Wednesday and features a new two-lane boat ramp, flushable restrooms and a fish cleaning station. 

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission began the nearly $3.5 million boating access improvement project in August.

Other improvements include accessible parking added to the existing lot, area lighting, loading ramps and boat dock, two new entrance kiosks, expanded stacking lanes and related utilities. The improvement projects are being funded with a combination of the Game and Parks’ Capital Maintenance Fund and park user fee revenue, in partnership with matching federal funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Fund and the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreation Trails Program along with the State Recreation Road Fund.

Cedar View Bayside Boat Ramp also saw improvements during the offseason. New features include an extension to the existing boat ramp, surface repairs and striping for the existing parking lot, accessible parking, an exit lane at the top of the ramp to improve traffic flow; and a cement vault latrine, loading ramp, boat dock and area lighting.

It is the latest in the continuation of Game and Parks’ Lake McConaughy/Lake Ogallala Master Plan, a 20-year outline of enhancements developed in concert with local stakeholders. Since its inception in 2016, nearly $6 million has been invested in repairs and developments at the reservoir and recreation area, funded largely by the Commission’s Capital Maintenance Fund, park revenues, the Nebraska Department of Transportation Recreational Road Program and Keith County Visitors Committee tourism grants.

Several construction areas remain in progress around the lake, including on surrounding highways. Travelers are advised there may be delays with one-lane traffic.

Peak season at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala began last weekend when the state recreation areas entered their second season of reservation requirements for all camping, including beach sites. Officials expect the season to continue through Sept. 11.

Fireworks are prohibited at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala at all times. However, Keith County fire chiefs are modifying the county-wide burn ban to permit campfires this summer. Flames must remain under three feet in length.

Campers are asked to use extreme caution with campfires. Fires must be maintained and attended at all times. Keep flames away from vegetation, watch winds and be prepared to quickly extinguish any flames or embers that may get loose.

The water temperature at the dam this week is 51°F. Water level at Lake Mac is 3,243.5 ft elevation. (66.9% capacity).