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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.

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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‘Reel in’ that discarded fishing line

NEFGA Recycling Bin

As soon as we arrived at the Chadron City Ponds for a short family fishing excursion, our dog Benny’s attention turned to the shoreline. His eyes were fixed on a bird dangling upside down from the rushes. Sadly, just as I suspected, the American robin had become tangled in fishing line. That bird flew off with a dangling leg for an undetermined fate as soon as I clipped the braided line free – a better fate than many of the …

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‘The basics’ weigh heavy in boat safety

Lake Minatare water scooter

As the temperature heats up, so does the activity at our lakes. Each summer, Nebraska’s lakes bring great memories to countless visitors who board boats and water scooters. There are few better ways to beat the heat on a summer afternoon than by skimming across the water. Unfortunately, the occasional bad accident puts a damper on the fun – an accident that in most cases could be prevented by taking common safety measures. Scott Eveland of Ogallala has been a …

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Plastic prevalence: Kayaks continue to gain popularity

Kayaks at Carter P. Johnson Lake

Just over a decade ago, I purchased a kayak from an outfitter in Texas — the nearest place I could find what I wanted. For quite a while after that, it seemed I was the only one on the water up this way using this type of vessel for fishing. That’s changed. It has been fun watching the popularity of these boats grow. While I certainly have enjoyed my big green hunk of plastic for its convenience, functionality and price, …

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‘Granddaddy of them all’ remains a gem

This is a big week for Chadron State Park,  the Nebraska attraction I call the “granddaddy of them all.” Chadron State Park. The park, which serves as a serene Pine Ridge getaway, gets that designation for being the first state park in a system that now has 77 diverse properties throughout Nebraska. On June 9, Chadron State Park will celebrate its 97th anniversary, and consequently the 97th anniversary of our state park system. The park actually got its beginning 99 …

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Nebraska’s first state park celebrating anniversary

Sunrise at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. – Chadron State Park, which became Nebraska’s first state park in 1921, will commemorate its 97th anniversary with its annual celebration Saturday, June 9. New to the event this year are trail running races of 1-mile, 5k and 10k and a 110-mile bicycle race, both part of the Pine Ridge Trails Race Series. The Panhandle Pedal Grinder bicycle race, which leads participants through forest and county roads of the scenic Pine Ridge landscape, will begin at the junction …

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Fort’s Market highlighting area crafts, arts, entertainment

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Arts, crafts and music are on tap for the fourth annual Fort’s Market at Fort Robinson State Park on Saturday, June 9.  The activities and vendor displays will be based at the park’s centrally located Buffalo Barrack’s from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to live musical entertainment, a bouncy house will be on-site for children. More information about the event may be found on a Facebook page titled “Fort Robinson Vendor Blender.” The event is …

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Guided wildflower hike this week at Wildcat Hills

Hoary Vetchling

GERING, Neb. – The Wildcat Hills Nature Center at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will celebrate National Wildflower Week with a guided hike through the park’s flora. The Wildflower Walk, an installment of the Wildcat Weekends series of events, will be Friday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the nature center. Participants will learn keys to identifying flowering plant species during the mile-long journey. Amanda Filipi, the Commission outdoor education specialist who is leading the hike, said the unusually wet …

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