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Wildfire exercise planned at Cedar Canyon WMA

Matt Steffl, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife manager, helps conduct a prescribed burn in Box Butte County. (Nebraskaland/Justin Haag)

GERING, Neb. – The Gering Fire Department will again lead fire training exercises on public land in the Panhandle for the annual West Nebraska Engine Academy. This year, the training exercises will be at Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area in the Wildcat Hills on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14-15.

Chris Becker, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife biologist, said hunters should be aware that burning will be occurring at various locations on the property and should consider the event if they plan to pursue game there that weekend.

Becker said the event, which was at Buffalo Creek WMA last year, will not only help train firefighters for a live fire, but that the area will see the benefits of prescribed burning as a bonus. Land managers in the Panhandle often use prescribed burning to improve diversity of desirable plants and lessen the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

“It’s hard to do a lot of prescribed burning in the Wildcat Hills because of the risks associated with it,” he said. “This event will have the resources and people available to ensure the burning goes smoothly.”

About 30 fire departments, along with state and federal agencies, are expected to be represented at the event.

More information about the event may be obtained by contacting the Gering Fire Department at firedept@gering.org or 308-436-2441.

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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