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Panhandle parks receiving upgrades

A house in a winter scene elevated so foundation work can be completed
Steel beams provide temporary support for one of the two historical lodging facilities receiving a new foundation at Fort Robinson State Park in a scene from January. Justin Haag/Nebraskaland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Visitors will enjoy more than $1 million of recent upgrades to state park and recreation areas in the Panhandle this summer, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

At Fort Robinson State Park, the equestrian campground expansion began late last year and is expected to be complete for visitors this spring. Included will be 24 additional sites with hook-ups to 50-amp electricity, water and sewer, doubling the old campground’s size. Also new will be an adjacent 30-pen enclosure for stalling horses outside. That facility will complement the recently renovated historic Mare Barn, which also will be available for boarding horses.

Jim Miller, Fort Robinson superintendent, said contractors also are replacing the foundation of two of the old buildings that serve as lodging facilities on the north side of the park’s main premises of facilities. When the project is complete, they will be more stable and protected from the weather.

In addition, Fort Robinson employees are in the process of repairing the plumbing in Comanche Hall, a group lodging facility, and the Post Playhouse, home of the popular summer repertory theater. The playhouse also is undergoing a lighting upgrade.

At Chadron State Park, Superintendent Gregg Galbraith said the project to upgrade campsites to 50-amp service should be finished before visitation increases this spring. When complete, all of the park’s paved campsites will have 50 amps to accommodate the demands of modern campers.

Galbraith said two of the park’s cabins have received major repairs and five of them are scheduled to be re-shingled. The park’s office received fresh paint and carpet, and a boost of its gift shop inventory. 

Also recently, the Pinecone Shelter was replaced, as well as one of the hiking bridges over Chadron Creek.

Late last year, contractors at Box Butte State Recreation Area added 20 new campsites and installed a new shower house. Superintended Robert Hughes said they are expected to be ready for use before visitation picks up.

Dan Thornton, superintendent at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area, said two new fish-cleaning stations were installed there, and a project recently began to replace siding, windows and doors on its maintenance shop. He said Bridgeport State Recreation Area will receive two new vault toilets.

These state park system projects and more largely have been funded by Capital Maintenance Funds, which were established by the Nebraska Legislature to help preserve Nebraska’s public outdoor recreation facilities and parklands; other state and federal funding sources; and Nebraska Game and Parks’ funds generated from user fees of the state park system.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag serves as a public information officer for Game and Parks in northwestern Nebraska. He lives in Chadron.

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