Tom Turek

Tom Turek of Kearney prepares to start his boat while waiting for his brother Joe of Gibbon to park the pickup and trailer at the Gremlin Cove ramp during an August fishing trip at Harlan County Lake. Ramps at Gremlin, Hunter and Methodist coves are open, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin a phased reopening of those campgrounds on June 2.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning phased reopenings of campsites and recreation areas, including Harlan County Lake in Nebraska, within the Kansas City District that have been closed due to COVID-19.

Corps officials said in a press release the decision to reopen each recreation area is based largely on the safety of staff and visitors. Each lake is undergoing conditions-based assessments to verify that all staff may return to work safely and will have proper personal protection equipment available.

Also being confirmed is the availability of contractors and staff who help operate and maintain recreation areas, and the ability to implement changes for campgrounds to address COVID-19 concerns.

The Corps website page for Harlan County Lake includes the following current conditions and plans for phased reopenings starting June 2:

Cedar Point — Boat ramp (high water), campground and day use closed. The campground and day use will have a phased reopening, but the beach is closed until further notice.

Cedar Run ATV Trail — Closed.

Gremlin Cove Park — Boat ramp and day use open, campground closed but will have a phased reopening, and beach closed until further notice.

High Point Shelter — Closed, but with a phased reopening.

Hunter Cove Park — Boat ramp and day use open. Campground closed but will have a phased reopening.

Methodist Cove Park — Boat ramp and day use open. Campground closed but will have a phased reopening.

North Outlet Park — Campground and day use closed, with phased reopenings for both.

South Outlet Park — Campground closed, day use open and a phased reopening for the campground.

South Turnaround — Day use open.

See a complete list of Kansas City District recreation area status updates at nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes/Recreation-Area-Status/.

Visitors returning to park areas can expect to see changes that include:

  • Campground reservations and payments must be made online at recreation.gov. To protect staff and visitors, no cash or checks will be collected on site.
  • Campers are encouraged to have self-contained camping units to reduce the traffic and congestion at park facilities.
  • Some non-reservable campsites and/or parks will remain closed.
  • Most boat ramps, trails and day use areas will remain open. Visitor centers, playgrounds, shelters and swim beaches may reopen once local guidelines and conditions allow.
  • The Corps of Engineers has suspended collection of day use fees until Oct. 1. That applies to all beach and boat ramp fees within the Kansas City District.

For people who previously purchased annual passes for 2020, the expiration date is being extended by seven months.

  • At all sites, social distancing and other restrictions required by local, state and federal authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be in place. Current CDC restrictions are posted at cdc.gov.

The Corps press release reminds visitors that if the restrictions cannot be followed, recreation areas could be closed again.