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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.

Sensory backpacks introduced at Wildcat Hills

GERING, Neb. – A new offering at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center has special meaning to the person who implemented it. It is a new checkout program for sensory backpacks. Amanda Filipi, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist who is based at the center, said she learned of sensory backpacks after her nephew was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. “I read about the sensory backpacks popping up in several different places across the nation, like museums and …

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Prescribed fire planned at Bordeaux Creek WMA

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CHADRON, Neb. – A habitat restoration project at Bordeaux Creek Wildlife Management Area east of Chadron will soon get a boost by the use of prescribed fire. The burning is set to occur within an area comprising about 10 percent of the 1,841-acre property when conditions are favorable in the coming month. The projected burn area, which is just south of U.S. Highway 20 in the northcentral part of the property, is outside of the pine forest and consists primarily …

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Summer beauty at Gilbert-Baker WMA

Harrison bills itself as “Nebraska’s Top Town,” which is mostly a play on the village’s elevation of 4,876 feet — the highest of all Nebraska communities. Also tops, though, is the scenery and natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, certainly not the least of which is Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area about 6 miles north of town. Here are some images from a recent visit to this remarkable public land. Perhaps one of the best examples of the serenity of Gilbert-Baker …

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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

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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

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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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