Wetland

Holmes Lake

Holmes Lake

With open waters and a winding path around Holmes Lake, hiking, walking, biking, and kayaking are all welcome here. This lake in the heart of Lincoln was originally built for flood control by the US Army in 1962 and named after George Holmes, a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission began the Aquatic Habitat Program here in 2001 to stabilize the sediment and repopulate fish within the lake. Holmes Lake has also been the site of other water quality improvement plans through the early 2000s, with great success. With excess sediment removed and cleaner waters, Holmes Lake has become a great place for aquatic life as well as recreation. It is a community hotspot with volleyball nets, an extensive playground, and pavillions equipped for summertime grilling. The south side of the lake also hosts Hyde Observatory, allowing Lincoln to have public astronomy shows.

Jack Sinn Wildlife Management Area

Jack Sinn Wildlife Management Area

Jack Sinn is an area of land and water designated by the government for conservation– also known as a wildlife management area, or WMA. It is owned by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and named in honor of a wildlife biologist who passed away in a plane crash while surveying the deer population in the area. This saline wetland is covered mainly by water, is home to many species of waterfowl, and serves as a good spot for hunting– particularly for pheasants. Conservation efforts have occurred here to preserve this ecosystem’s salinity and water levels. Other birds, such as American pipits and cliff sparrows, can be seen here during migration.

Killdeer Wildlife Management Area

Killdeer Wildlife Management Area

Killdeer WMA is an easy escape from the city. If you are looking to kayak, canoe, fish, or hunt, this forested lake is the perfect option. The name comes from the bird killdeer– a type of plover that likes to run, has a double black band around its neck and is known for its shrill two-syllable call. Although it is close to the city, Killdeer’s landscape gives it a serene, isolated, wilderness-y feel while still being close to home. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission owns Killdeer WMA.

Marsh Wren Saline Wetland

Marsh Wren Saline Wetland

Previously a dog park, this saline wetland is a great spot close to Lincoln, offering hiking and plenty of wildlife viewing. You can expect to see abundant avian life, such as marsh wrens, doves, egrets, and several duck species. Muskrats, deer, and foxes also visit the area frequently. Saline wetlands are important because they can collect and filter runoff water and can limit the effects of flooding around an area. There have been several successful introductions of Salt Creek tiger beetles in this area. These beetles, while tiny, host a fiery attitude, running and ambushing their prey while hunting. Salt Creek tiger beetles are endemic to a few very small areas of saline wetlands around Lincoln, Nebraska. After a wetland restoration project was completed in 2017, the preserve has blossomed into an exceptional spot to learn about backyard wetlands and spend time in nature. Marsh Wren is owned by Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.

Oak Lake

Oak Lake

Oak Lake city park and recreation area is the perfect place to view urban wildlife, enjoy a picnic, or go for a walk. The park was established in 1922. However, the Lancaster County dump was located right across the street and posed a health and safety hazard for those visiting in search of a breath of fresh air. Citizens of Lincoln continued to use the landfill until the 1950’s, when a new dump was created. The land was given to the Lincoln Parks Department– after which the existing lake was expanded, and a small park was added. Oak Lake is prime real estate for waterfowl of all kinds and when the water levels are drawn down the shoreline becomes a hotspot for migratory shorebirds as make a pitstop to feed and rest on their migration journeys. Equipped with picnic tables, a scenic path around the lake, a dog park, and plenty of fish to catch, Oak Lake is a family-friendly getaway that is an easy and accessible way to get outside.

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