Trail Closure, More Tree Cutting Planned at Omaha’s Zorinsky Lake | Local News

A preview of this month’s events in the Omaha Metro.

A major trail closure and another round of tree felling are planned at Zorinsky Lake and the recreation area.

From Monday until the end of October, people will not be able to go around the lake on weekdays because the 168th Street section will be closed.

The path around the lake forms an 8, with at 168 the link between the upper and lower sections.

The 168th Street section will be closed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the Omaha Parks Department. It will reopen daily at 4 p.m. and will be open on weekends.

The closure will allow Metropolitan Utilities District crews to work on utility lines as part of the South 168th Street Improvement Plan. The road is widened to four lanes and a new bridge will be built over the lake.

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Unrelated to the road works, a tree removal project is overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Over the past two years, the Corps, in consultation with the city, has removed trees around the perimeter of the park.

The Corps announced this week that it has awarded a $479,740 contract to a company in Tekamah, Nebraska, for the next phase of work – tree removal along the park’s northern boundary.

Midwest Maritime Services will have until September 2023 to remove trees along the park boundary from 189th Avenue to approximately 167th Street.

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Some landowners and wildlife advocates have unsuccessfully fought the project, saying it dislodges wildlife and harms the aesthetics and tranquility of the park’s perimeter. Other landowners supported tree removal, saying the boundary was poorly maintained and problem trees were dropping branches or creating a hazard.

The Corps is removing trees and shrubs to enforce a 30-foot-wide clear corridor around the perimeter of the park. Primarily, the Corps says the corridor allows for a better understanding of the boundary between public and private ownership, reducing the chances that property owners in the area will build on or use park land.

The work at Zorinsky is the result of a nationwide push by the Corps after it discovered encroachment elsewhere on federal property it oversees. Around some federally owned reservoirs, homes and outbuildings have been built on federal property, according to Corps officials.

In Zorinsky, the problem involves fences, some retaining walls, birdbaths and flower gardens, said Kelsey Jolley, a natural resources specialist with the Corps.

A significant reason for encroachment at Zorinsky has been confusion over park boundaries, according to the Corps and neighbors. The perimeter fence that the government put in place decades ago is not actually on the border, but rather is located about 1-3 feet inside the park.

The lake and park are federally owned and the park is operated by the City of Omaha.

The Corps has completed tree removal along the southern perimeter of the park, Jolley said. Further deletions will be made in the years to come.

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