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. CST on July 1. Mail applications must be received by Game and Parks’ Lincoln office by 5 p.m. CST on July 14, while online applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST on July 14.

Two anglers may submit a joint application, but the applicants must both be residents or both be 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, 2023, 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 successful applicants.

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 more information, including an application form, read the 2023 Nebraska Fishing Guide a

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. A vehicle park entry permit is required, expect at the Schramm Education Center. Here are some opportunities:

‘Science of’ virtual webinar series returns in July

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

Every Thursday at 3 p.m. Central time, Game and Parks educators will discuss some of the science behind common things regarding nature and animals. The schedule of topics: July 6 – Mountain lions; July 14 – Animal communication; July 20 – Clouds.

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

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.

Snakes of Nebraska is July 29-30 at Schramm

Schramm Education Center near Gretna will host the annual Snakes of Nebraska event July 29-30.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln herpetologist Dennis Ferraro and his lab will lead a live snake encounter featuring most of Nebraska’s 29 snake species. The live snake exhibits will be set up open-house style in the Schramm Education Center classroom and will be available both days from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

This event is free. Education Center admission fees will apply for those also visiting the Education Center in addition to the event. Use the classroom entrance on the left side of the building.

Contact Jen Ruyle at [email protected] or 402-332-5022 for more information.

Schramm Park SRA to host Nature Journaling

Learn nature journaling at 9 a.m. July 29 at Schramm Park State Recreation Area.

Join Nebraska Master Naturalist, writer and educator Jeff Lacey on a hike designed to help naturalists of all ages and ability levels write and sketch in or about the forest in a nature journal.

Meet at the park shelter with a green roof by the first pond as you enter the park. Resources will be provided.

Discover relationship between dark skies, wildlife

Come to the Snake River Campground at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area on July 21 and investigate the relationship between dark skies and wildlife.

Discover the fantastic world of nighttime insects and celebrate Merritt Reservoir’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park.

At 8 p.m. at the Nebraska Star Party Tent on the observing field, night lighting equipment will be used for this project.

Yoga in Nature July 14 at Schramm

See how yoga and nature are woven together as Nebraska Game and Parks offers a Yoga in Nature class July 14 at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.

The free class, which begins at 9 a.m., is designed for everyone from beginners to experts. Come to learn, play and break a sweat in a supportive environment. All bodies are welcome. The nature-themed class will incorporate certain poses will coincide with the theme.

Registration is required. Some yoga mats will be available.

For more information and to register, visit the calendar event entry at Email [email protected] with questions.

Mud Pie Mornings set for Schramm

Prepare to get dirty for Mud Pie Mornings at Schramm Park State Recreation Area on July 24.

Meet at 9 a.m. by the Schramm Education Center side entrance, then go on an ingredient-seeking hike.  Next, naturalists and participants will squish through a mud-pie recipe, all while learning about soil composition.

Two Rivers SRA nature programs July 15

Two Rivers State Recreation Area will host nature programs 12:30-2 p.m. July 15.

Join naturalists at the picnic shelter just north of lakeside campground. Discover tracks, pelts, skulls and more things to explore. Meet a live animal and learn about some of favorite Nebraska species that can be found at the SRA.

Mahoney SP to host star gazing July 28

The Nebraska Star Party group will sponsor a Star Gazing Party for the public at dusk July 28 at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park.

Powerful telescopes will be set up near the park’s golf shack for a glimpse of the night sky. Bring camp chairs or blankets. This event is free and viewing equipment will be provided. Rain dates are the next day or following Saturday.

Pre-party naturalist programs, with astronomy-related activities, will be held at the picnic area in front of Owen Marina from 3-4:30 p.m.

Wildcat Hills hosting bioblitz July 21-22

Join natural resource experts and volunteers July 21-22 as they discover the biodiversity of the Wildcat Hills during a bioblitz, where they will find and identify as many species as possible.

The bioblitz begins July 21 with a 7:30 p.m. hike and continues with a session on moths at 8:30. The next day has the following schedule: 8 a.m. – Reptile and amphibian survey; 9 a.m. – Bird survey; 10 a.m. – Plants and wildflowers; 11 a.m. – Insect survey.

Meet at the Nature Center. Contact the Wildcat Hills Nature Center for more information at 308-436-3777.

Kayak cleanup set for six lakes on July 11

Wildlife and people need clean and healthy spaces to live and enjoy. Join Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor educators at one of six lakes July 11 for a night of service to local waters – removing trash from lakes while kayaking.

Lake cleanups will take place at Danish Alps State Recreation Area near Hubbard, Lake Minatare SRA near Minatare, Rock Creek SRA near Parks, Willow Creek SRA near Pierce, Iron Horse Lake near North Platte, and Carter Lake near Omaha.

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

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own kayaks, but a limited number a 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

Public urged to Clean, Drain, Dry after zebra mussels found in private lake

Invasive zebra mussels recently were found in Beaver Lake, a private water body near Plattsmouth in eastern Nebraska.

An adult mussel was first found on a boat lift in mid-May. Follow-up sampling by Nebraska Game and Parks Aquatic Invasive Species Program confirmed the presence of microscopic young zebra mussels and adults in the lake.

It becomes the fourth water body in Nebraska to have an established zebra mussel population. The others are Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton, Offutt Base Lake, and the Missouri River downstream of Gavins Point Dam.

Boaters, including kayakers, are encouraged to be vigilant about cleaning, draining and drying their vessels to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Zebra mussels, which look like a small D-shaped clam with alternating light and dark bands, can live up to two weeks out of water. Young zebra mussels are invisible to the naked eye and can be spread through any water left undrained.

Boaters should clean all visible plants, mud, or animals from the vessel; drain all water within the boat, including the motor; and dry their boat for five days before going to another water body. Any watercraft launched in waters infested with zebra mussels should drain all compartments completely and let the watercraft dry outside the water for at least 14 days.

In addition to clean, drain and dry requirements, Nebraska regulations also prohibit anglers, boaters or hunters from arriving at a water body with any water from another water body in a watercraft.  

“The discovery of zebra mussels in this lake is unfortunate, and we will assist the lake community the best we can,” said Kristopher Stahr, Game and Parks’ aquatic invasive species program manager. “Game and Parks urges the public to always Clean, Drain, Dry your watercraft. It only takes one person to introduce invasive species that can drastically affect Nebraska’s aquatic resources.”

Each year, Nebraska Game and Parks samples water from more than 40 public waters during the summer to test for microscopic young zebra mussels. Game and Parks also employs seasonal inspectors throughout the state to check for invasive species on watercraft.

Last year, Game and Parks inspected a record 6,627 watercraft statewide. If zebra mussels are found attached to the boat, it is not allowed to launch.

Report suspected observations of zebra mussels or other aquatic invasive species to Game and Parks at 402-471-7602 or [email protected].

Visit for more details on the Clean, Drain and Dry procedure, and to learn more about zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species in the state.

BUI awareness and enforcement campaign set for July 4th weekend

Operation Dry Water, a national effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence, is July 1-3, and Nebraska will again be a part of the effort.

For the weekend leading up to July Fourth, Nebraska Game and Parks will have additional officers on the waters across the state. Their goal will be to raise awareness and to foster a stronger, more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water through enforcement.

Fourth of July is a holiday known for increased boaters on the water where alcohol use is prevalent and for a higher number of boating incidents and fatalities, according to Operation Dry Water.

“Drinking alcohol while boating can have serious, even deadly consequences, and our goal is to make sure everyone is enjoying their time on the water and staying safe,” said Jeff Clauson, boating law administrator for Game and Parks. “We encourage boaters to enjoy the water in a safe and responsible way.”

Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor to fatal boating incidents. Just like on land, alcohol use impairs judgment, balance, vision, reaction time and can increase fatigue. Sun, wind, noise, and motion — stressors common during boating — also intensify the side effects of alcohol and drugs.

In Nebraska, it is unlawful to operate a motorboat with a blood alcohol level content of .08% or greater. Doing so constitutes BUI, which carries penalties such as vessel impoundment, fines, jail time and loss of boating privileges.

During the 2022 Operation Dry Water, 51 Game and Parks conservation officers contacted 1,372 boaters, resulting in 305 safety warnings, 108 citations and 7 BUIs.

Operation Dry Water is a joint program of Game and Parks, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Find more information on the national effort at

Other boat safety reminders

In addition to recreating responsibly, Game and Parks offers these boat safety reminders:

  • Have all required boating safety equipment on your vessel, including life jackets or U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation devices, lights, a fire extinguisher, horn, bailing bucket and an orange flag if pulling skiers and tubers.
  • Children age 12 and younger and anyone riding or operating a personal watercraft or being pulled on a towable must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Anyone operating a motorboat or personal watercraft must be at least 14 years old.
  • Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1985, must complete a boater safety course, which can be taken at; search for “boater education.”

For more information on boating rules and requirements, read the 2023 Boating Guide at

Two state recreation areas will allow fireworks on July 4

Visitors to two state recreation areas will be allowed to touch off fireworks on July 4. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urges them to be careful when lighting fireworks.

The areas that will permit fireworks from 8 a.m. until midnight on July 4 are Fort Kearny SRA and Wagon Train SRA.

Due to exceptional drought conditions, Branched Oak, Memphis and Pawnee SRAs will not permit fireworks as they have in past years.

Signs at Fort Kearny and Wagon Train will point the way to designated fireworks sites, and boundaries will be clearly marked. Use of fireworks elsewhere in state parks areas or at other times is prohibited.

Only fireworks approved for sale in Nebraska by the state fire marshal are permitted, and visitors must pick up expended fireworks and deposit them in appropriate containers. Minor children must be supervised when discharging fireworks. Use, possession and the discharging of fireworks is at the sole risk of the users.

A park entry permit is required for all vehicles entering state parks areas.

Find a park event near you this July

From Fourth of July festivities to competitive bike, kayak and run races, Nebraska state parks are offering a variety of summer fun across the state.

Don’t forget to purchase a vehicle park entry permit to enter Nebraska Game and Parks state parks. Get one at or at state park entrances.

Celebrate Fourth of July like it’s 1820

Travel 200 years back in time for Fourth of July weekend at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park in Fort Calhoun.

From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 1 and 2, visitors will be able to glimpse the holiday activities that would have taken place at this 1820s-era outpost.

Ongoing demonstrations featuring military and civilian life of the 1820s will occur throughout the park. Reenactors portray fur traders, coopers, blacksmiths, carpenters, tinsmiths, weavers and other period trades. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the reenactors.

Admission to the newly revitalized Harold W. Andersen Visitor Center is $4 per adult and $1 per child.

Learn more at

Fourth of July at Fort Robinson

Celebrate the Fourth of July at Fort Robinson State Park with daily events July 2 to 4.

Enjoy the 50th Western and Wildlife Art Show, which opens at 9 a.m. Mountain Time each day at the Fort Robinson Veterinary Hospital.

On July 3, children between 2 and 18 years old are invited to participate in the Children’s Wall of Art Contest from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $5 to participate. Art materials are provided for children to complete a piece of art onsite. First-, second- and third-place winners in each age group will be presented at 1 p.m.

Barbecue on the west lawn will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 4. Cost is $12 per person. A fried chicken buffet also will be available from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 4 at the Fort Robinson Restaurant. Cost is $18 per person.

Wedding Expo planned at Mahoney State Park

Attend the Mahoney Wedding Expo at its newest venue, Crete Carrier Riverview Lodge, from 1 to 4 p.m. July 9 at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park near Ashland.

The bridal fair will feature about 40 vendors, including photographers, deejays, event planners, food and dessert businesses, wedding attire companies, invitation designers and more.

The event is free, but guests must pre-register to attend. Register through the event listing at The first 40 registered brides in the door will receive a bride’s sash and be entered to win a date night.

Vendors interested in having a booth at the event should contact Amanda Jewel Events at [email protected] or 402-671-3317.

Celebrate Campfire Christmas in July at Indian Cave State Park

For a touch of holiday cheer, bring the family to Indian Cave State Park near Shubert on July 14-15 for the 10th Annual Campfire Christmas in July.

Between 7-10 p.m. July 14, guests can play flashlight reindeer pellet round-up or take a Polar Express hayrack ride through a Christmas light display.

From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 15, guests can meet Santa, ride the hayrack Polar Express, participate in the Yule log quest, ride ponies, play on a water slide or watch a Christmas-themed outdoor movie. Guests also can try their hand at antler toss, snowball toss and toilet seat horseshoes.

The Jingle Bell Junk and Craft Market will be from 1 to 6 p.m. July 15. Food trucks also will be on the grounds offering brisket burgers, ice cream, funnel cakes, fried Oreos and shaved ice.

A campground-decorating competition will be at 8 p.m. Saturday with winners announced the next morning at the entrance booth.

Find additional event details at

Join Mystery at the Mansion nights at Arbor Lodge SHP

Put your best sleuthing hat on and join the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park for an old-fashioned whodunnit in the magnificent setting of Arbor Lodge Mansion in Nebraska City.

Themes are Murder Among Mateys, a family-friendly mystery, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 28, and Cruising for Murder, adult only, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 29.

Participants will solve clues, look for evidence, and break the case while mingling with new friends.

Cost is $30 per person. Light refreshments, a self-guided tour of Arbor Lodge, and tax are included in the price. A beverage cooler with drinks for purchase will be available that evening. Space is limited.

Purchase tickets through the event listing at

Crofton Dam Race set for July 29

Sign up or cheer on competitors in the annual Crofton Dam Race on July 29 at Lewis and Clark Lake State Recreation Area in Crofton.

Competitors can choose among three events: A sprint triathlon with kayaking instead of swimming, a half marathon or 12-mile bike race. Participants must be 14 years or older. The Triathlon can be done individually on in teams.

Each entry receives a T-shirt, bib and meal following the race. Register at

Kayaks are provided and medals will be awarded for winners of each age group.

Funds from the Crofton Dam Race help fund the development and construction of a hike-bike trail at Lewis and Clark SRA.