Nebraska Game and Parks plans $35-million upgrade to Platte River Valley Parks
Picture yourself sledding down a toboggan run, racing downhill in a tube or big ball or zip-lining through a beautiful wooded area.
Over the next four years, Nebraska Game and Parks (NGP) will be working to provide these fun outdoor experiences and more with a $35-million upgrade to four of its Platte River Valley parks.
The project is dubbed, “Nebraska’s Outdoor Venture Parks: Parks for the Next Generation.” It will involve Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park, Louisville State Recreation Area, all in Cass County, and Schramm State Recreation Area nearby in Sarpy County.
“The purpose of creating an Outdoor Venture Park is to meet and anticipate park visitors’ expectations of the Nebraska Game and Parks,” information about the project states. “…Families and visitors to the parks are looking for more than just a walk in the park. They want the rush of adrenaline and a sense of exhilaration of the adventures they could have at the parks.”
NGP Director Jim Douglas said the main theme of the venture parks is “nature-based play and learning.”
Images from First Day Hikes
The First Day Hikes numbers for 2016 are in! Listed are the number of hikes, the number of participants, and the miles hiked for each state. Click on the following link to download the PDF: First Day Hikes 2016
We also received comments about the First Day Hikes from many states. These are stated below:
COMMENTS FROM NEW JERSEY:
Johnson Ferry House, Washington Crossing State Park History Hike, “Ferry to Ferry” “Hi Nancy, Just a quick note to thank you for the very informative hike today. I learned so much from your talk and really appreciated all of the new information about the crossing and the history of the area and Johnson Ferry house that I learned from you today. … You brought history to life today on a cold day and I really enjoyed it.”
Bass River State Forest, First Day Hike in NJ’s First Forest “Last Friday’s First Day Hike at Bass River State Forest was wonderful. Nothing like a breath of fresh air, a nice hike, and a compatible group of fellow trekkers to start the New Year off right! Our visit to the historic Contact Station (cabin) was a treat. Cynthia showed us the cabin’s interior complete with an architect’s blueprint of this circa 1940 building. The CCC “boys” did a fabulous construction job, one that I hope can be saved for future generations to enjoy.”
Warren Grove Recreation Area (Bass River State forest), “Short and Sweet” hike in the Pines Plains. “Ahhhhhh … Thirty-nine people and 4 dogs enjoyed a hearty start to the New Year hiking the NJ Pine Plains in Warren Grove. We hiked, true to the name “Short and Sweet”, 2.5 miles. … We actually began our outing with an 8 AM breakfast at Lucille’s, filling the small restaurant with 25 folks in an effort to fuel our bodies for the hike. … Seventeen of the people on today’s hike have previously participated in previous 1st day hikes in NJ. Youngest participant was 4 years old, oldest was 89! Included were teachers, naturalists, retirees, botanists, college students, meteorologist, machinists, moms, dads, grandparents, young-uns’ and one state worker 😉 Longest distance traveled [to get here] was a tie between French Creek PA and New York City, NY. We finished our hike with pot luck snacks and socializing….. wonderful.” [Note: “short” refers not only to the length of the hike, but mostly references the very short Pigmy Pines growing in this area]
COMMENTS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA:
Our interesting story is this. This year we introduced a new aspect to First Day Hikes in SC – a friendly competition between military branches to see which branch could log the most miles on First Day Hikes in SC. This was our way of showing appreciation for the sacrifices that our military folks make so the rest of us can enjoy things like parks and First Day Hikes. SC has bases from all 5 military branches, so we hoped we would get a good turnout. As a USANG veteran, I’m proud to say the United State Army took the inaugural First Day Hike military competition. We look forward to growing the program and participation next year.
COMMENTS FROM COLORADO:
- Across the state many of our hikes started out at approx. 20 degrees below zero and “warmed up” to around 20 degrees above zero!
- At Trinidad Lake State Park we partnered again with our local animal shelter. They bring out adoptable dogs for the hike. This year one of our adoptable dogs had just recently had a leg amputated but she did great on the hike. She was adopted just days later!
- At Mueller State Park, an 88-year old woman has hiked their FDH each year! Her photo is attached (Doris Hall).
- Most hikers saw wildlife tracks in the snow, including bobcat, mountain lion, deer and elk. A few parks reported sightings of bald eagles.
- Quote: “I woke up this morning and thought, what am I doing…it’s so cold! Then I came out here and the hike was incredible and the fresh air made it all worth it!”
COMMENTS FROM TENNESSEE:
- “I really enjoyed the day. The hike was very informative as well. Thanks to you all!” –David Crockett State Park Hiker
- “What a fantastic time we had! Beautiful scenery, enjoyed the people we walked/talked with, and led by one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.” –Big Hill Pond State Park Hiker
- “Will be back next year! Great way to bring in the new year.” – Norris Dam State Park Hiker
- “Thank you to all the Park Rangers and staff that made this happen. We had a great time getting in some outdoor exercise.” – Henry Horton State Park Hiker