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Public lands reopen after wildfires

Public lands southwest of Gering that were closed because of the Carter Canyon Fire have been reopened to the public.

The properties, located in the Wildcat Hills escarpment, are Cedar Canyon and Montz Point wildlife management areas, as well as two adjacent properties owned by the Platte River Basin Environments — Carter Canyon and Montz Point.

The wildfire in late July and early August burned across the entire 2,200 acres of Cedar Canyon wildlife area, while a sizable portion of the 10,533-acre Carter Canyon property also was blackened. In total, the fire swept across 15,630 acres. The two Montz Point properties did not burn but were closed as a precaution during the fires.

Hunter Baillie, a district wildlife manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said visitors to the properties should be mindful of boundaries as border fences and signs have been burned and not yet replaced. Maps can be found in the Nebraska Public Access Atlas, available in Game and Parks Commission offices, select retailers and online at maps.outdoornebraska.gov.

He also urges visitors to keep an eye out for special hazards in burn areas, such as falling trees and hot spots. In addition, the bridge that is one mile east of Carter Canyon Road’s intersection with Summit Ranch Road is out.

Baillie said the recovery of wildlife habitat on the burned areas would be largely dependent on rain or snow.

“Most big game species will be temporarily displaced until we receive some moisture and areas can recover,” he said. “Some areas will take many years to recover, while some will provide high quality habitat as early as next year.”

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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