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Free public seminar set to explore Pine Ridge ecosystem, landowner opportunities

CHADRON, Neb. – Attendees of a free one-day seminar at Chadron State College will learn about the extraordinary natural resources of the Pine Ridge and efforts aimed to help their cause. The Pine Ridge Biodiversity and Land Management Seminar will be Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Student Center.

Erin Divine of Chadron, coordinating wildlife biologist for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, said the event provides an opportunity for the public to learn about management projects and techniques designed to conserve and enhance biodiversity in the Pine Ridge — the escarpment of forested buttes, ridges and canyons between the White River and Niobrara River in northwestern Nebraska. Landowners of the region are among the intended audience.

“Our goal is to inform the public of the great things that are taking place in the Pine Ridge region and provide landowners and land managers with valuable information that will hopefully be useful to them as they make future management decisions,” Divine said.

She said landowners can expect to learn about conservation programs offering technical assistance and financial incentives for habitat improvements in forested and grassland environments. In addition to the informative presentations, attendees will receive lunch. The event will conclude with a field trip to Chadron State Park.

Although the event is free, reservations are required. To RSVP, contact Divine at 308-432-6122 or erin.divine@birdconservancy.org.

The Conservancy, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Chadron State College are sponsoring the seminar.

The schedule:

9-9:15 a.m. Check-in; 9:15 a.m. Welcome by Amber Schiltz, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies; 9:30 a.m. A Plan to Conserve Nebraska’s Biological Diversity by Melissa Panella, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; 10 a.m. Flora and Plant Communities of the Pine Ridge by Steven Rolfsmeier, Chadron State College; 10:45 a.m. Bighorn Sheep and Other Nebraska Ungulates by Emily Moberg, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; 11:15 a.m. Bat Monitoring in the Pine Ridge by Erin Considine, U.S. Forest Service; 11:45 a.m. Lunch; Noon, Habitat Restoration in the Pine Ridge, Erin Divine, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies; 12:30 p.m. The History of Forest Management at Chadron State Park, Mike Groenewald, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; 1-2:30 p.m. Field trip to Chadron State Park project sites.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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