Lake Wanahoo

REDISCOVER NATURE: Lower Platte North Natural Resource District officials announced last week that admission to one of eastern Nebraska’s most popular fishing and camping destinations will be free through Sunday, April 5.  (Staff Photo by Jason Unger)

WAHOO – Lower Platte North Natural Resources District Manager Eric Gottschalk made the announcement on March 16 that the general public will be granted free access to Lake Wanahoo Recreation Area through April 5.

The 1,777 acre recreation area which surrounds a 662 acre lake is located just north of Wahoo Wahoo off Highway 77/92.

The Lake Wanahoo Recreation Area offers camping, no wake boating, fishing, hiking, biking and disc golf.

Gottschalk said the decision was made to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors during this time of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

“This is something that most people have never had to deal with and I think that there are a lot of questions out there and just a sense of uneasiness and anxiety among most people,” Gottschalk stated.

Gottschalk said he understands that people feel may feel ‘cooped up’ with the restrictions placed on schools, restaurants and other places often frequented every day by kids and adults alike.

“We believe that exposure to the great outdoors and everything nature has to offer is an excellent option for individuals feeling cooped up and wanting to get out,” Gottschalk added.

Gottschalk stated that the Lower Platte North NRD has been working closely with the Three Rivers Public Health Department about the viability of making the recreation area available for free to the general public.

“The same rule of social distancing will apply here at the recreation area. We are going to limit groups to under 10 people in our shelter areas and the restrooms will be closed,” Gottschalk stated.

The park will be staffed, but Gottschalk stated with new guidelines regarding the maintenance and cleaning of restroom facilities makes it unrealistic for his small staff of employees to keep up with the upkeep of the restrooms.

No changes have been announced when it comes to the camping area on the west side of the lake.

“No changes there, but again, we encourage campers to practice the social distancing and avoid congregating in large groups,” said Gottschalk.

All hunting and fishing rules and regulations will remain in effect according to Gottschalk.

All group organized events and events scheduled with schools have been postponed with the exception of Conservation Sensation scheduled at Lake Wanahoo in May.

The event, open to fifth and sixth graders from Butler, Colfax, Dodge, Platte and Saunders County focuses on water, wildlife, forestry and geography is still on as of now.

“We haven’t cancelled yet, but the event could be depending on how everything progresses,” said Gottschalk.

Gottschalk also stated that the education building on the east side of the lake is open, but is limited to groups of 10 or less.

“With the status of graduation parties up in the air we have already been getting a number of cancellations from people who were hoping to use the education building for their reception,” said Gottschalk.

He said that all deposit and rental fees will be refunded in full.

In regards to the trail system that connects downtown Wahoo to Lake Wanahoo it’s business as usual.

“Yep nothing has changed with the trails, we just ask that people using them follow the rules and regulations set up by the NRD and the City of Wahoo,” Gottschalk said.

Gottschalk also said that the free admission may get extended past April 5. A decision will be made and posted online at the end of March.

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