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justin haag

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a NEBRASKAland’s Regional Editor and Public Information Officer for the Commission. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing and hunting. 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 enjoy introducing their two children to the many outdoor recreational opportunities of the Pine Ridge region.

New Sled Run Created at Chadron State Park

Sledders at Chadron State Park

With the northwestern Nebraska countryside adorned in white the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is encouraging people to grab their sleds and take a downhill ride at one of its state parks. Chadron State Park has a new sled run for visitors to enjoy. This summer, with winter in mind, staff cleared and mowed an area just north of the park’s highest parking lot. The obstruction-free run, which is near the Soapweed Picnic Shelter just off the paved loop around …

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Sowbelly on the Rise

Sowbelly Creek

My NEBRASKAland magazine duties are a little different than other types of journalism I’ve experienced during my career. With the bulk of the content for our magazine’s print edition being created a year in advance and stories going to press far ahead of each edition’s designated month, it doesn’t leave much room for “last-minute” changes. We all know conditions in Nebraska are susceptible to the whims of Mother Nature. For instance, a photo spread I produced titled “A Short Fall,” …

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Project Improving Trout Stream in Flood-damaged Park

Coffee Park

The effects of torrential spring flooding has dampened activity at Harrison’s Coffee Park for months, but thanks to a cooperative effort between local, state and federal officials there’s been a lot of movement at the remote attraction in Sioux County in recent days. Before long, trout anglers will be among those bringing the action. Major clean-up efforts at the park, located along Sowbelly Creek in the heart of the Pine Ridge in Sioux County, began last week when Fuller Construction …

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The Fall Before the Ice

Sawyer Haag with largemouth bass.

My ice-scraper went to work this week for the first time in months. Some may lament this annual milestone and the coming of winter, but each scrape gets me more excited for ice-fishing and the soon-to-come season of fun on the hardwater – even if I am just a few days removed from a more summer-like scene of comparable enjoyment. With abundant sunshine and near perfect temperatures Sunday, Smith Lake Wildlife Management Area in Sheridan County reeled in my son …

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Fort Robinson Christmas Dinner Tickets Available Nov. 2


It may be the season of pumpkin patches and changing leaves but people should think ahead to a different season if they want a place at the table for the annual Historical Christmas Dinner at Fort Robinson State Park. Tickets for the popular event, which are known to sell in a hurry, will become available at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 2. The dinner will be Saturday, Dec. 5. This year’s menu replicates the bill of fare from the Fort’s dinner …

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New Firearm Rule in Place at Bordeaux Creek WMA

Beginning this fall, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is prohibiting use of centerfire rifles on the west unit of the Bordeaux Creek Wildlife Management Area three miles east of Chadron. Safety concerns about the proximity of several homes to the popular hunting area prompted the Commission to prohibit use of the long-range weapons on the 294 acre tract located between Bordeaux Road and Pineview Road. New signs at the property advise hunters of the restriction. Deer hunters can still …

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Hunting for Business


It’s long been known by businesses that hunting can be a stimulator for the economy. When the big summer tourism season winds down, motel owners, restaurants and retailers look forward to the influx of people dressed in camouflage and orange to keep those dollars flowing. A study by Southwick Associates estimates the annual economic impact of hunting to be $848 million in Nebraska, with $562 million in retail sales and 8,856 jobs supported. Those are big numbers and, considering what …

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Boy Scouts, Volunteers Planting Trees at Chadron State Park


About 250 Boy Scouts of the Longs Peak Council will gather at Chadron State Park this weekend to plant trees in areas burned by the 2012 wildfire that entered the popular northwestern Nebraska tourism attraction and burned much of its ponderosa pine forest and surrounding areas. The public is invited to assist in the planting of 3,000 trees in the park Saturday morning. Participants will begin planting trees after an education session at 8 a.m. and are expected to finish …

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New Cowboy Trail Section Celebrated in Rushville


Kris Ferguson had a lot to celebrate Saturday. It was her birthday, but that milestone came secondary to the party for one of her greatest labors of love. Ferguson is the Gordon cyclist who turned tragedy to triumph after being struck by a motor vehicle while riding along Nebraska Highway 27 south of the Sheridan County city. While recuperating from the 2011 accident, which required her to be flown to Scottsbluff for emergency care, she launched an effort to develop …

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Wildcat Hills Nature Center Closing for Construction


The Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering is closing for the season today (Friday, Sept. 18) as construction begins on a large addition to the center. Some services will be moved to a different location. Although the center’s displays and merchandise will be put in storage during the construction, permits for hunting, fishing and park entry will be sold at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area’s shop two miles south along Nebraska Highway 71. The park, including its campground, …

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