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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.

New trout stream section to improve habitats near Mitchell

MITCHELL, Neb. – Anglers, fish and a diverse set of wildlife will soon enjoy a new stretch of trout stream in the western Panhandle. Construction is underway to add nearly three-quarters of a mile of trout stream on Dry Spotted Tail Creek just west of Mitchell in Scotts Bluff County. The new stream section, which is being constructed to receive water from the creek’s existing straightened channel, will result in new wetland habitat for many aquatic species and terrestrial wildlife …

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Tool-sharpening Dam Builders

Anyone who has watched a North American beaver (Castor canadensis) gnaw through a tree trunk has surely been in awe of its proficiency. Using teeth to whittle on wood, after all, is a task neither appealing to humans nor something the American Dental Association advises us to do. Those four orange incisors that protrude as much as one inch from the top and bottom of a beaver’s mouth comprise just one remarkable feature of North America’s largest rodent, and perhaps …

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Night sky is topic of Wildcat Hills program

GERING, Neb. – Attendees of a program at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will observe and learn about the night sky. The program gets underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. The presenter is Tom Robinson, a Western Nebraska Community College instructor who teaches astronomy. Robinson said attendees will meet at the nature center for an introductory video provided by Hyde Memorial Observatory of Lincoln, then move to the east end of the park …

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A magical time in northwestern Nebraska

Spring and early summer is a magical time of year that leaves us too quickly. It seems I never get out with the cameras as much as I want to during this period, but usually end up with a few keeper images, anyway. Here is a collection of random photos from recent weeks. I am often amused when any given chamber of commerce or tourism bureau brags on its sunrises and sunsets being the best. (Since we are all watching …

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Wildcat Hills: A Wild Place

Whether you’re looking for state-of-the-art facilities, or just a great view in the pines, this Panhandle park has it. High on the list of Nebraska’s captivating scenery and natural assets are the Wildcat Hills. It seems an understatement to label this topographical spectacle as “hills,” as it is actually a land of rugged buttes, ridges and canyons with topographical elements rising upwards to 1,000 feet above the North Platte Valley. Some of the state’s most recognizable landforms – Chimney Rock, …

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The Divine Devil’s Den

Scientists of yesteryear agree: this crevice in far northwestern Nebraska is in a class by itself. Western Nebraska has many landforms labeled canyons. Each contradicts Nebraska’s “flat” stereotype, but a true box canyon – one featuring steep walls on each side with single access for entrance and exit – is a rarity in the state. One site in the northwest corner of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s northwestern-most property fills the bill as such even though it does not …

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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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