KEITH COUNTY, Neb. (CBS4) - A popular tourist attraction for Colorado residents is considering changes to address overcrowding. Lake McConaughy in Nebraska has hosted an unprecedented number of visitors the last two years, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The commission partnered with Keith County Commissioners to hold a public hearing Thursday. Officials are considering changes to reduce overcrowding at the lake and increase law enforcement.
The proposed changes would go into effect before Memorial Day 2020. Officials said record visitation has negatively affected the agency's ability to provide quality guest services and has strained basic sanitation services, shower facilities, campgrounds and parking areas.
In 2016, the commission initiated a 20-year management plan with input from local private sector representatives, local homeowner associations, Keith County officials, local tourism and economic development officials and first responders. The newly proposed changes at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala state recreation areas would expedite the goals outlined in the 20-year plan.
"Game and Parks will continue to work proactively and invest financial resources to upgrade basic services, roads and campgrounds to enhance the overall quality of our visitors' experiences," said Jim Swenson, parks administrator. "Our objective is to manage recreation areas that are better, safer, family-friendly destinations."
The proposed changes include designated camping areas that limit the number of campers and vehicles. Guests would need to make a reservation for overnight camping. Reservations would be accepted online up to 90 days in advance. They would be taken on a first-come, first-served basis and would expect to become available in March.
The commission would enforce a 14-day occupancy limit at all campsites. Specific day-use areas would be available and would not require a reservation. Camping would not be allowed on these areas, occupancy numbers would be limited and parking would only be allowed in designated areas.
The commission is also researching regulation changes to prohibit alcohol possession at the lakes. Officials said seasonal water levels may impact beach availability.
For more information about the proposed changes, visit outdoornebraska.gov/LakeMacChanges/.
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