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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.

Here’s Your Sign

caterpiller

Sometimes nature sends obvious signs about what a person should not touch. Cacti, yucca plants, porcupines and rattlesnakes have signals akin to a flashing billboard. Then there are more devious dangers such rash-inducing urushiol on unassuming poison ivy plants. I am not sure where the subject of the following story fits into that spectrum, but I now know I should have been paying a little closer attention to some signs. “Ohhh, look at the fuzzy caterpillar,” my 10-year-old daughter Kiera …

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Wildcat Hills Nature Center ‘Going Batty’

GERING, Neb. – Attendees of a program at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will learn about one of nature’s misunderstood creatures of the night – the bats. The program, “Going Batty,” will be Saturday, Aug. 4, at 8 p.m. at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center. Amanda Filipi, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist who is leading the program, said there are at least 13 species of bats in Nebraska that eat countless insects. The program will discuss …

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Commission enforcing off-road restrictions at Box Butte Reservoir

West end of Box Butte Reservoir

HEMINGFORD, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is reminding visitors to Box Butte Reservoir that motorized vehicles are restricted to roads, parking areas or trails designated for vehicle use. With water elevations lowered for dam repairs, many visitors to the lake have been accessing and traversing Box Butte Wildlife Management Area via the exposed shoreline and the Commission has closed some of the trails created from the traffic. The WMA includes the lake and all of the area …

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New boat launch coming to Box Butte Reservoir

HEMINGFORD, Neb. — Construction is underway for an upgraded boat launch facility at Box Butte State Recreation Area. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees closed the old boat ramp and adjacent parking area July 24 and began diverting boaters to a new temporary “primitive” boat ramp just to the west. Demolition of the old ramp is expected to begin immediately and the area is closed for safety. Steve Satra, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission program specialist, said the new handicapped-accessible …

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Program to explore ‘Creatures of the Night’

CHADRON, Neb. – The public is invited to learn about and search for “Creatures of the Night” at Chadron State Park. On Saturday, July 21, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist Amanda Filipi will lead attendees on a journey to explore the park’s nocturnal animals, such as bats and owls. The group will meet at the lagoon shelter at 8:30 p.m. The activity is open to the public free of charge, but a park entry permit is required …

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Wildcat Hills Bioblitz is July 20-21

GERING, Neb. – The public is invited to help uncover the biodiversity of the Wildcat Hills during the Wildcat Hills Bioblitz. The interactive event will be Friday and Saturday, July 20-21, based at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. Bioblitzes, such as this one, bring together natural resource experts, community volunteers and others to inventory all living species in a specific area during a certain period. The family-friendly event will kick off at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center with a …

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Schedule shortened for re-enactments at Fort Robinson

CRAWFORD, Neb. – One of the two groups of re-enactors scheduled to demonstrate infantry and cavalry maneuvers and provide educational demonstrations at Fort Robinson State Park this week has been forced to cancel because of a family emergency. The activities will go on as scheduled Thursday, July 19, but there will be not demonstrations on Friday or Saturday, July 20-21. On Thursday, the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard of Fort Riley, Kansas, will demonstrate horse drills, use of jumps, sabers, …

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Mountain lion kills goat near Chadron

CHADRON, Neb. – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials have confirmed that a male mountain lion killed a domestic goat near Chadron in Dawes County. The goat’s owner contacted Game and Parks officials July 16 after finding the dead animal. That day, Game and Parks biologists examined the carcass and its surroundings. The condition of the carcass and presence of nearby mountain lion evidence suggested a high probability that one of the big cats was responsible. The landowner and Game …

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Fort Robinson, Wildcat Hills offer bighorn sheep viewing events

Bighorn sheep jumping fence

CHADRON, Neb. – Two Panhandle parks are offering special opportunities to view the state’s best climbers – bighorn sheep. The hikes, which each begin at 9 a.m., will be Friday, July 13, at Fort Robinson State Park west of Crawford and Saturday, July 14, at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering. Participants will gather at the parks and caravan to the sheep’s present range with the aid of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife technicians who use telemetry …

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Walgren Lake among July magazine topics

Cottonwood trees at Walgren Lake

The July issue of NEBRASKAland magazine is out and in it you will find a little story about one of the Panhandle’s quiet out-of-the-way places to fish and camp – Walgren Lake State Recreation Area. My family and I often bank on Walgren, located just southeast of Hay Springs, for a quick fishing trip or an overnighter. The article highlights much of the lake’s colorful history, dating back to the 1920s when the state fish and game agency obtained ownership …

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