Natural Resources

Lake development, water recreation projects authorized

Lawmakers approved a proposal April 12 to build several water recreation and tourism projects across Nebraska.

Sen. Mike Hilgers
Sen. Mike Hilgers

LB1023, introduced by Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, authorizes the state Game and Parks Commission to oversee the construction of marinas at Lake McConaughy and Lewis and Clark Lake and an event center and lodge at Niobrara State Park.

It also authorizes the state Department of Natural Resources to build and manage a lake in eastern Nebraska within the Platte River’s floodplain.

The department may purchase, sell or lease land and enter into contracts for construction and management services related to the lake. It also could enter into agreements with natural resources districts.

The bill requires the department to give preference to contract proposals from a certain nonprofit corporation and those that provide for a public-private partnership.

The nonprofit’s board will include at least four directors who are appointed by the governor with the approval of a majority of the Legislature. It also will include a member of the Legislature and a representative of the state Game and Parks Commission, both of whom will be nonvoting members.

LB1023 requires the department to ensure that the public has complete access to the lake. The land selected for the lake will be owned by the state, and the bill prohibits any private entity from designating any portion of the lake for exclusively private use.

It also prohibits the department’s director and employees from having a financial interest, either personally or through an immediate family member, in any purchase, sale or lease of real property relating to the construction or development of the lake or in any lake-related contract.

A similar prohibition applies to members and employees of the commission.

LB1023 passed on a vote of 38-6 and took effect immediately.

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