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justin haag

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a public information officer for the Commission, also 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 enjoy introducing their two children to the many outdoor recreational opportunities of the Pine Ridge region.

State Park Summer Speaker Series Begins Friday

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A summer series of Friday night informational and entertaining programs in northwestern Nebraska’s two state parks kicks off this week. The first presentation, which is Friday, May 27, at 7 p.m. near the Trading Post at Chadron State Park, will guide attendees on how best to enjoy the many popular locations managed by the National Park Service, which turns 100 years old in August. The presenter will be Dr. William Earl, a seasonal ranger for the park service. The series …

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Second Vendor Blender Set at Fort Robinson State Park

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Unique arts and crafts will be on the market during the second annual Vendor Blender at Fort Robinson State Park on Saturday, June 11. More than 30 vendors have signed up to display their products at the Buffalo Barracks and Squad Room from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The many items include essential oils, hand-made furniture and crafts, candy, beadwork, garden crafts, jewelry, photography, western art and décor, weight loss aids, and patriotic crafts. Also, many quilts that have been donated to …

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Swimming Pool Upgrades among Chadron State Park Improvements

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When Chadron State Park opens its many activities this weekend for the summer, return visitors to the swimming pool will be sure to notice improvements. The pool’s bath houses and office have been renovated with new showers, sinks, lockers, benches, countertops and paint. The upgrades not only boost the appeal of the pool, but also make it easier to use for people with disabilities. “We expect these new improvements to be popular with our visitors,” said Gregg Galbraith, park superintendent. …

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Fort Robinson Plans Celebration for Donated Quilts

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Fort Robinson State Park will celebrate the many quilters who have donated their creations to be used in the park’s lodging facilities this summer. Becky Serres, the park superintendent who is in charge of housekeeping, is planning a public tea June 4 from 1-4 p.m. in the Buffalo Soldiers Barracks just west of the park’s headquarters. The event is open to the public free of charge and the quilters have received an invitation to attend. “We received some really great …

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June Boating Safety Courses Set for Panhandle

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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is offering its mandatory boating safety course at several locations in the Panhandle in June. Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator, including drivers of personal watercraft such as Jet Skis, born after Dec. 31, 1985, to complete one of the two types of boating safety courses and be in possession of a course certificate. Operators must be 14 years old to drive motorboats and personal watercraft in Nebraska. Home-study format, in which participants download …

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Flooding Prompts Closure of Some Bridgeport SRA Campsites

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials are advising that about half of the campsites at Bridgeport State Recreation are closed because of flooding within the park. Gary Shoemaker, the park superintendent who manages Bridgeport SRA, said Tuesday that many of the campsites and roads in the northwest corner of the park are underwater because of the rising North Platte River. Sites on the east side remain open. Park employees will continue to monitor the situation and open the campsites as …

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Panhandle Parks Getting Ready for Free Park Entry Day

Fort Robinson State Park Jeep Ride

Many of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s attractions in the Panhandle are planning special activities for Free Park Entry and Fishing Day on Saturday, May 21. Free Park Entry and Fishing Day is an annual event in which the Commission allows fishing and entry to parks without requiring permits. It provides an opportunity for people to experience the state’s diverse park areas and fishing resources free of charge. Following is a list of special activities at the region’s State …

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Dates Set for Intertribal Gathering at Fort Robinson State Park

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Fort Robinson State Park guests again will celebrate Native American culture during one of the High Plains’ premier powwows. The 17th annual Intertribal Gathering is moving to a traditional powwow format and will be June 18-19, a week later than its usual date. Featuring traditional dancing, drumming and singing in a family-friendly environment, the event annually attracts hundreds of dancers and spectators. An array of activities will complement the dancing, including a 5k run. Vendors selling Native American crafts, food …

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Bighorn Ram’s Record Score Confirmed

Terry Bogle with ram

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has confirmed that the bighorn sheep ram harvested by Lincoln hunter Terry Bogle in December 2015 is a new state record. The final net score for the ram’s horns is 190 5/8 on the Boone and Crockett Club scale – just over the 189 it measured prior to a mandatory drying period. The previous record of 185 7/8 was set in 1998, the first year of the Commission’s bighorn hunt. The ram, one of …

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Taming Tigers

Justin Powell's Grand Slam

It’s been fun witnessing the excitement about one of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s latest fisheries projects – tiger trout stockings. I’ve noticed an increased number of Nebraskans posting photos of the beautiful species on social media, and have even had a photo or two arrive via text message from excited anglers who have caught the species for the first time. The species is bringing out the child in a lot of us. During his visit to Chadron last …

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