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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.

Fort Robinson restaurant back to normal hours

CRAWFORD, Neb. – The restaurant at Fort Robinson State Park will return to its normal operating hours Saturday, June 29. The restaurant, located in the park’s headquarters, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It has been operating on an abbreviated schedule this month because of a staffing shortage.

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Bat program next up in state park speaker series

CRAWFORD, Neb. — A summer speaker series in northwestern Nebraska’s two state parks continues with a program about the fascinating and often misunderstood flying mammals of the night — bats. Amanda Filipi, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, will deliver the presentation Friday, June 28, at 8 p.m. It will be at Fort Robinson State Park’s Soldier Creek Campground shelter house, just off U.S. Highway 20. The program is targeted to park visitors of all ages. The …

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Forsberg exhibit on display at Wildcat Hills

GERING, Neb. – A traveling photography exhibit by renowned nature photographer Michael Forsberg of Lincoln is on display at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area through Aug. 20. Forsberg will greet the public during a reception Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the center’s Ponderosa Room. Forsberg’s imagery of wildlife and landscapes has long been revered for its contribution to conservation. His honors include the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra …

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Cottonwood Lake reopens

MERRIMAN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has reopened Cottonwood Lake State Recreation Area. Park superintendent Diane Burress said visitors to the park should be cautious and choose camping areas wisely. Shallow water remains over the paved entrance road in places, and some camping areas are still flooded or muddy. Flooding prompted closure of the Sandhills park in late May.

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Chadron State Park celebrating 98th anniversary

CHADRON, Neb. – Chadron State Park, which became Nebraska’s first state park in 1921, will celebrate its 98th anniversary with its annual celebration Saturday, June 8. New to the event this year is the Kiwanis Regatta canoe race, which is being moved from its usual date later in the summer. Registration begins at the park’s pond at 2 p.m. The Run for the Hills foot races, which include a 5k, 10k and a shorter fun-run or walk over the rugged …

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Bird Photography: The First 99

One shutter-button press at a time, the bird photos add up. What the Nebraska Panhandle may lack in diversity of bird life when compared to eastern Nebraska it more than makes up for in its varied landscape. That variation, from the towering sandstone buttes through the pine forests, sandhill lakes, riparian woodlands, grasslands, croplands and even residential areas, is home to a diversity of birds, and some bird-watching gems found nowhere else in the state. Joel Jorgensen, nongame bird program …

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Park speaker series kicking off with osprey program


CRAWFORD, Neb. — A summer speaker series in northwestern Nebraska’s state parks kicks off this week with a program about ospreys and other birds of prey. Shelley Mangram, a ranger at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, will deliver the presentation Friday, May 31, at 7 p.m. at Fort Robinson State Park’s Soldier Creek Campground. The series of presentations, which also includes programs at Chadron State Park, is a collaboration of the National Park Service’s Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, the …

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Fort Robinson changes restaurant hours

CRAWFORD, Neb. — Fort Robinson State Park will be changing its restaurant hours June 1 because of an employee shortage. The new hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The restaurant, located in the park’s headquarters, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

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Fort Market attracts many diverse vendors

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Arts, crafts and an array of other merchandise will be up for sale during the fifth annual Fort Market at Fort Robinson State Park on Saturday, June 8. The event will be based at the park’s centrally located Buffalo Soldier Barracks from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. About 50 vendors, offering items ranging from food to yard art, have signed up so far and the park has just a few outdoor stalls left. Requests for vendor applications …

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Flooding prompts Cottonwood Lake closure

MERRIMAN, Neb. — Cottonwood Lake State Recreation Area in north-central Nebraska has been temporarily closed because rains have flooded the park’s access road and portions of its camping area. The park will be reopened after the flood waters recede and the grounds are ready for visitors. Cottonwood Lake SRA, which includes the 60-acre lake and 180 additional acres near Merriman in the Sandhills, is managed by nearby Bowring Ranch State Historical Park.

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