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Lake McConaughy guests seeing results of park upgrades

Boat ramp at Lake McConaughy.
A $3.5 million boating access project at Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area provided several improvements at Martin Bay, including an upgrade to the high-water boat ramp, which now has an 11% grade, compared to 3.5% before the project. Eric Fowler/Nebraskaland Magazine/NGPC

Upgrades to Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area near Ogallala in 2022 have improved boating access, traffic flow, fishing amenities, beach access and more.

A $3.5 million boating access project significantly upgraded Martin Bay’s entrance, parking area and high-water boat ramp, and the Cedar View Bay boat ramp.

The Martin Bay high-water boat ramp has an 11% grade, compared to 3.5% before the project. The steeper grade makes launching boats easier. The two-lane ramp has a turnaround and boat staging area. The addition of accessible parking and resurfacing were among many improvements to the existing lot. A restroom with flush toilets was added as well.

A Barracuda fish-cleaning station, valued at $55,000, also was installed with funding by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sportfish Restoration Program. Martin Bay previously had no fish-cleaning station.

The Martin Bay entrance was upgraded to three lanes to improve traffic flow. This reduces the number of cars on or near the highway, improving safety. With two gatehouse booths, more guests can be helped simultaneously, to allow faster entry into the park. A roundabout also was installed to help with traffic flow.

The renovation of the Cedar View boat ramp has improved boat launching on the west end of the lake. Workers replaced some of the old ramp, which was cracked with erosion under the concrete. The ramp’s entrance was widened and the top section extended. A new exit lane leads back to the parking lot, which has a new vault toilet.

The final part of this project to be completed is the motorized water trail, scheduled for completion by summer. This is a marked route on navigable waters for recreational use. Improved boating access sites, once completed at opposite ends of the reservoir, will be the first element of this trail.

Another Cedar View upgrade was the addition of a Barracuda fish-cleaning station, replacing a 10-year-old unit. This improvement of nearly $55,000 was funded 50% by Nebraska Game and Parks and 50% by Keith County Visitors Committee improvement grant.

New beach access points were created at Beach Area No. 3 and Cedar View. The project included removal of trees, reshaping the landscape to have a steadily sloped roadway and the placement of rock.

In 2021, nearly all the beach access points had a new rock dressing, and in 2022 five beach access points where graded and new rock was added.

Last fall and this spring, Lake McConaughy’s archery range received new targets, target stands, a mulched walking trail, a rock parking area, signage, updated picnic area, and fencing to improve safety for users. Funding for the improvements came from the Game and Parks Hunter Education Program and Lake McConaughy budget. Assistance for the project came from Big Mac Sports Club and Big Mac Bowhunters.

The improvement projects were funded with a combination of the Nebraska Game and Parks’ Capital Maintenance Fund and park user fee revenue, in partnership with matching funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Program and the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program, along with the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s State Recreation Road Fund.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at or 402-471-5008.

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