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Business owner responds to tabling of decision to changes at Lake McConaughy

 Unprecedented visitors in the last two years at the state's largest reservoir is prompting the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission to move forward more quickly with camping changes. (SOURCE: KNOP-TV)
Unprecedented visitors in the last two years at the state's largest reservoir is prompting the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission to move forward more quickly with camping changes. (SOURCE: KNOP-TV) (KNOP)
Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 8:12 PM CST
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Nebraska Game and Parks announced some proposed changes earlier this month to Lake McConaughy and the surrounding areas.

The Nebraska Game and Parks announced via press release they are tabling their decision on a plan to limit Lake McConaughy overcrowding by limiting camping and beach numbers.

Some local business owners have shared some concerns about what the possible changes could do to business and held a meeting at Front Street Steakhouse in mid-January to voice their concerns and talk through their ideas.

Mike Petko owns and operates Wolf Auto in Ogallala.

Petko says the changes that have been proposed would be detrimental to the Ogallala economy if they went through as is.

"You look at the 600 campsites proposed and eight people per campsite and multiply that out you’re coming up with about 450 to 480,000 total visitors at Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala in the shoulder season, the high season for us here in Ogallala," said Petko "If you compare that to some of the numbers that have been thrown out there, the close to 2 million, that’s about a 75% dip from the traffic last year which would have obviously a damming affect on the economy here."

Petko was in attendance in Lincoln at the Game and Parks meeting Wednesday and said he was met with a lot of understanding.

"It was an amazing experience and I think I share the experience of the folks that also went from Ogallala here in that we were just treated very kindly, everybody was very genuine in their approach and very concerned, candidly, about the impacts of the dramatic cut in the number of overnight stays here in Ogallala."

He said he commissioners are listening to what the people are saying.

"We got an opportunity to talk to each and every commissioner and every commissioner did express those concerns and wanted to let us know that they read every single letter and hear the people of Ogallala."

Petko says now the real big planning and work begins.

"Get involved this isn't a time to sit on our hands and not do anything this is a high-profile item for this area and we want to make sure that this is turned into a positive," said Petko, "The game and Parks is listening, from the visitors meeting, to even going down to Lincoln to hear us they know our concerns, they don't want an economic catastrophe here and I think if we put together a plan which I'm very confident that the county and city officials well I think will come out even better than when we went in."

The parks department said the next meeting they will discuss the proposed changes will be in March 20th in Hastings.

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