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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.

Fort Robinson Christmas Dinner has 1939 theme

Christmas Dinner

CRAWFORD, Neb. – World War II was beginning in Europe, “Gone with the Wind” was a hit at the box office and the soldiers at Fort Robinson enjoyed a Christmas dinner of turkey, pork loin, oyster soup and an array of sides and fixings. The 200 attendees of the 23rd annual Christmas Dinner at Fort Robinson State Park on Dec. 2 will be treated to the same menu as that one in 1939, when Fort Robinson was a quartermaster remount …

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Chadron State Park Bioblitz tops 200 species

Kids with fish

CHADRON, Neb. – Participants of the Chadron State Park Bioblitz in late September identified 203 species of plants, animals and insects, providing evidence of the biodiversity in the Pine Ridge. Amber Schiltz, Nebraska wildlife education coordinator for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, was pleased with the tally, especially considering the time of year. Species ranged from the osprey flying high above the park’s pines to the smallmouth bass swimming below the pond’s surface. “We saw 45 bird species alone, …

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Box Butte Reservoir to remain low for coming year

Aerial photo of Box Butte Reservoir

HEMINGFORD, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reports the water level at Box Butte Reservoir will remain low for at least 12 more months as construction workers repair the dam’s toe drain system. During this period, the Commission encourages watercraft users to watch for emerging obstructions in the lake and use special care launching boats. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said the reservoir will be limited to an elevation of 3,985 feet during construction, a point just below …

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Public invited to plant trees at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. – The public is invited to assist Boy Scouts on Saturday, Oct. 7, in planting about 2,500 ponderosa pine seedlings in areas burned by the 2012 wildfire at Chadron State Park. Volunteers should arrive at the park’s campground between 7:30-8 a.m. in work attire. The plantings, which will occur at various points throughout the park, are expected wrap up early in the afternoon. Helping organize the effort are park staff, employees of the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources …

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Bioblitz returning to Chadron State Park

Bioblitz presentation

CHADRON — The public is invited to join Chadron State Park’s second annual Bioblitz on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29-30. The park’s group event facility will serve as headquarters for the more than dozen surveys and activities, which will take place at locations throughout the park. The free event will allow participants young, old and in-between to discover and celebrate western Nebraska wildlife. A bioblitz is an event where members of the public become “citizen scientists” and work with biologists …

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Thinning project beginning at Fort Robinson State Park

Sunset at Saddle Rock

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Fort Robinson State Park will soon enjoy the benefits of a forest and woodland management project. To encourage forest health and improve wildlife habitat, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has contracted the thinning of ponderosa pine trees in a 97-acre portion of the 22,000-acre park. Most of the thinning area is on property that surrounds Saddle Rock, the prominent landform at the eastern end of the Red Cloud Buttes. About 20 acres of the thinning area …

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Improvements completed at Whitney Lake boat launch

Boat ramp expansion

CHADRON, Neb. — Boaters at Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area should have an easier time getting on and off the water thanks to improvements at the lake’s launching site. The Whitney Lake Fishing Club collaborated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to widen the lake’s 150-foot concrete boat ramp and replace its dilapidated dock with a new model. Because of Whitney Lake’s role as an irrigation reservoir, the seasonal rise and fall of its water level had long posed …

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Hunting Big Grass

Hunting Big Grass

Upland bird hunting properties with public access, especially those with large expanses of seemingly uniform cover, can be intimidating. Where will you be when the season rolls around? Nebraska’s properties with public access may be found in the latest edition of the Public Access Atlas. Written by Justin Haag

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Outdoor programs designed for homeschool, preschool students

GERING, Neb. – Homeschool and preschool students will learn about the great outdoors with a nine-month series of free educational programs getting underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center this month. The programs will tackle a new topic each month with age-appropriate material. Programs for homeschool students will be the second Tuesday of each month and a program of a similar topic will be presented for preschool students the following day. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education …

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A Small Dose of Darkness at Bighorn

I will not count it among easiest photo assignments I have had. Mother Nature says, “Hey, I’m going to give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with challenging lighting situations and because you’re a nature photographer everyone is going to expect you to get great images. You can have from a few seconds to 2½ minutes to get your shot, depending on the spot you choose within this narrow strip through the middle of Nebraska. I may or may not send clouds. …

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