Standing Bear Lake water access closes this winter for improvements

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV)  — Improvements to Standing Bear Lake could be coming soon, but it will mean restricted access to the water during an important season. A draft environmental assessment and improvements have been released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Omaha District.

Updates laid out in the draft include removing the single-lane boat ramp, constructing a new two-lane ramp, two perpendicular breakwaters on either side of the ramp to protect from wind and wave damage, and a new kayak launch.

Other plans include an improved parking lot to alleviate traffic, increased fisher access, and removing undesirable existing fish populations to change them out for more desirable sport fish.

USACE says improvements are happening at this time, as improvements are always being considered. In a statement to 3 News Now, they said a recent survey of local anglers “have placed an emphasis on shoreline fishing access and in-lake habitat improvement projects.”

Standing Bear Lake


Funds for the project are coming from the state Aquatic Habitat Stamp and Sportfish restoration funds, according to an email statement from the USACE.

The improvements are set to start later this year, forcing the closure of water-based activities until it’s complete, which leaders think will be the fall of next year.

“I live really close so it’s probably the closest lake to me. A lot of people are usually here so I know it’s safe, somebody’s always here and then I love the walking bridge that goes across the water and I like to kayak. I know it’s a small enough lake that I can get back to the ramp if I’m tired,” said Laela Williams, a kayaker and frequent visitor of Standing Bear Lake.

Williams recently took up kayaking, visiting the water at Standing Bear Lake at least two or three times a week this past summer.

Upon learning about the closure, she had mixed feelings.

“Well at first I was like ‘what? That’s my spot.’ But I can always go somewhere for a year. But it will be great if it’s something where they’re improving the ramp. It does need to be secured or switched out because it does look like it’s old. And then if it draws more people then maybe someone to hang out with, more people to kayak,” Williams said.

During construction, some trail segments, roads and parking areas will also be closed, as well as the bridge.

Brett Hart, a Standing Bear Lake visitor, though much less than Williams had a similar reaction.

“I guess it’s too bad. I love this area,” Hart said. “I think in the long run it’s a good idea. It’s a pretty dense population in this area. I would think it’s good for the neighborhood too.”

Williams also had some ideas for improvements like benches along the shoreline, as well as a ramp.

Before the final plan is decided, you too can weigh in. Comments can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District at 1616 Capitol Avenue, Omaha, NE 68102, with attention to Rebeca Podkowka.

Comments must be received no later than Nov. 17.

Final approval of the project is expected at the end of November or early December.

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