As the first holiday of the summer season kicks off, safety should be a priority for everyone that goes outdoors for the extended weekend.
Be sure to exercise courtesy and patience at boat ramps and campgrounds so that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe holiday.
Always keep an eye on the sky for severe weather. Severe weather can hit quickly, if you are on the water be sure to be safe and get off the water before a storm hits.
Many of us will be around a pond, lake or river on the holiday weekend and safety must play a key role in keeping safe near water.
Water sports, whether swimming, boating or skiing can be fun but can also be dangerous. Being safe can help prevent injuries and drowning.
Always keep an eye on kids near the water and have them wear a life vest to be safe. Accidents can happen quickly and wearing a life jacket can save lives.
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Boaters and personal watercraft users need to use extreme caution this weekend. Before you go, read the “2023 Boating Guide” and know the rules and regulations like the state waterway markers, right of way and navigation rules, unlawful practices and never go boating under the influence.
Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1985, is required to successfully complete a boating safety course and possess a course certificate while operating a boat or personal watercraft. You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska. To find class options and classes being held near you, visit outdoornebraska.gov/boatereducation.
Everyone wants to get out and enjoy water sports but stay level-headed near crowded boat ramps. No one wants their weekend ruined by heated confrontations; a little courtesy can go a long way toward ensuring an enjoyable outing for everyone.
Be sure your boat is in good running order and have the equipment you need to make your boat legal before you go. Carry a life jacket for each person on board your boat and a type IV throwable device. Keep in mind no child 12 or younger is allowed aboard any vessel when not wearing a life jacket that properly fits them — the boat operator is responsible for compliance.
To avoid problems, have everything ready to go before you pull onto any boat ramp. Have all of your gear in the boat, hookup the gas tank, don’t forget the plug and make a safe but quick boat ramp visit.
When pulling a person on skis, a tube or similar devise, you must have a person aged 12 or older as an observer unless your vessel is equipped with a wide-angle rear-view mirror.
A hunter orange flag of at least 12 inches square must be displayed when a skier is down in the water. The skier must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket that is in good condition and all lines must be stowed aboard the towing vessel when not in use.
Kayakers and paddle board users should be sure to wear a life jacket, and kayaks need a bailing device and a whistle. Physically inspect your planned put-in and take-out points to make sure they are accessible and check for water flows before you go. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
While most parks and state recreation areas are first-come, first-served, know before you go to check availability at areas that are reservation only. Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala are two places that you will need reservations before you go for the weekend.
Before you start that evening campfire make sure there are no fire bans in the area and please use wood from within a 50-mile radius of your location to stop the spread of invasive pests like the emerald ash borer.
Sutherland State Recreation Area will be hosting a free BioBlitz this Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for people of all ages.
Professional biologists from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and more, will present on mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, aquatic species and pollinators — and pollinator planting. Participants will help set reptile, amphibian, bat and mammal traps, along with the opportunity to learn more about the animals captured and released during the BioBlitz.
The times and events are as follows:
7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.: Small mammal trapping.
8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.: Birding.
10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.: Native pollinator plants, medicinal and edible plant hike.
11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Make a nature journal.
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Lunch break.
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Reptiles and amphibians.
3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Macroinvertebrates.
4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Dinner break.
7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Dark skies and light pollution discussion.
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Moth lighting.
9 p.m.: Bat Acoustics.
Visitors can stay for the entire day or come and go according to the events they want to be a part of. Those staying for the entire day need to pack a lunch and supper, snacks, drinks and bring lawn chairs. Be sure to dress accordingly for the weather. Bring boots, hats, jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen and water.
The event is free, but a Nebraska state park entry permit is required. Park permits can be purchased online at outdoornebraska.gov.