- Associated Press - Saturday, July 29, 2017

HUBBARD, Neb. (AP) - As the temperature climbed on a humid summer morning, a few anglers and kayakers had a nearly new lake all to themselves.

Just how Justin Jarman likes it.

“It’s a relaxing place, not too many boats out here. The fishing’s good,” said Jarman, of Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska, who said he’s made several trips to the Danish Alps State Recreation Area, which opened two years ago a mile southeast of Hubbard.

One of the newest recreation areas in Nebraska, the 740-acre park, tucked among the hills along Nebraska Highway 35, is still being discovered by new visitors, the Sioux City Journal reported .

Named for the hilly terrain that is reminiscent of the Danish homeland of the immigrants who settled in the area, the park isn’t visible from the road, and visitors must drive a little more than a mile on a gravel county road to get there.

For Jarman, it’s worth the trip.

“I fish here a lot. I duck hunt out here quite a bit in the fall and pheasant hunt here,” he said as he fished recently with friends Cameron Bancroft, of Valentine, Nebraska, and Morgan Keating and Ashten Gibson, both of Wayne, Nebraska.

It was the second visit to the lake for Keating and Gibson. Both said it’s a good recreation destination in an area of the state that previously didn’t have much more than farm ponds.

“It’s close to small towns that don’t have a lot of water,” Keating said just after reeling in a bass.

Gibson also liked the handicapped-accessible pier that enables her brother to enjoy fishing from his wheelchair.

Those are just a few of the reasons that Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials believe the park and lake will, over time, become a popular destination.

“In all typical new areas, we’re trying to get erosion controlled, areas green, trees growing,” said Jeff Fields, Northeast Regional Supervisor for the Game and Parks Commission.

The park had an estimated 34,000 visitors in 2016, its first full year of operation, and parks officials are pleased with the turnout thus far in 2017.

Park superintendent Kyle Madsen said camping areas are at about 50 percent occupancy most weekends, and the park was nearly filled during the Memorial Day weekend.

With all the young trees, there isn’t a lot of shade yet. But many visitors are coming for the park’s centerpiece, 220-acre Kramper Lake, which began filling in 2012 with construction of a conservation dam backing up Jones Creek. Named after Vince Kramper, a Dakota City farmer and conservationist, the lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye and channel catfish, all of which are growing - and biting.

“We have a lot of great stories. Over the next two years it’s really going to blow up,” Madsen said of the fishing conditions.

Fishing isn’t the only attraction. Because it’s a no-wake lake, Madsen said Kramper Lake has become popular for kayakers.

The park also features RV and tent camping, equestrian camping facilities, day use areas, a 3-mile walking and hiking trail, and 12 miles of equestrian trails.

And more features are coming at the $17 million recreation area, which is part of an erosion and sediment control project overseen by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. The NRD owns the Danish Hills property and the Game and Parks Commission maintains it.

Already established is a group camping site designed for scouting groups or families that’s separated from other campsites and offers more privacy.

A fish-cleaning station and boat wash-out station are in the works. Also under development is a kayak-in campsite that kayakers can paddle up to. It will be the first of its kind to be found in any of Nebraska’s state parks and rec areas, Madsen said.

Another 3 miles of hiking trail are being developed, as is a bird hide, a camouflage shelter in which park visitors can sit and watch birds without being seen.

As word gets out about the fishing conditions and added amenities, Fields said he expects the rec area to see more visitors.

“I think it’s met expectations,” he said. “I think it’ll get better and better.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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