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Gering council receives trail study report
October 25, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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photo courtesy of Brian Hale

At their Monday meeting, members of the Gering City Council learned about a long-term plan to improve the trail system around Scotts Bluff National Monument.

Monument superintendent Ken Mabery told council members that about a year ago, they entered into an agreement with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. Three department professors oversee and guide the plan to develop the monument’s trail system. Nine students have visited the monument three times to survey the area to help develop a trail plan.

“We also asked for input from other government institutions, recreation, tourism and environmental groups for input on their thoughts on an expanded trail system,” Mabery said. Those comments went to the initial planning group.”

He said groups in the area, such as the Farm And Ranch Museum and the City of Gering, were invited to participate with ideas about how their venues could be included into an expanded pathway.

“We’ve already had one open house and about 30 people participated,” Mabery said. “We’re planning another in early November and will advertise that for anyone who wants to attend.”

Student research, public comments, and other input will all go into the initial draft, which should be completed by early February 2013.
“The initial draft then goes out for more comments, including the cities,” Mabery said. “By the first of March, we hope to have a final plan for additional trails for the national monument.”

He said the final study will address a variety of trail types, from paved to unpaved, light use paths.

After the trail plan is completed, the regional director of the National Park Service must sign off on it before it becomes official. Even then, it’s just a working document.

“This is only a plan of what we’d like to do,” Mabery said. “Whether the trails become a reality depends on available funding.”

He added the plan can only address issues within the 3,000 acres of the Scotts Bluff National Monument, but he hopes to work with Gering and other interested groups to extend the trails to include them.

In other action, local fireworks vendor Greg Trautman asked the council to make permanent a city ordinance allowing for the sale and discharge of fireworks over New Year’s Eve, covering Dec. 29 – 31.

The initial ordinance was passed in 2010 with the condition it would be reviewed the next year to see if any problems had developed. However, a blizzard that year kept most people indoors.

The ordinance was extended again to include 2011, but the sunset clause was included.

“To my knowledge, there weren’t any problems with fireworks,” Trautman said. “This isn’t like the Fourth of July. People usually only shoot off a few fireworks to celebrate the New Year.”
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