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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.

‘Wildlife and Watercolors’ program set at Wildcat Hills

GERING, Neb. – The public is invited to express appreciation for wildlife by watercolor painting during an upcoming program at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center. “Wildlife and Watercolors,” the next installment of the center’s Wildcat Weekend series of events, will be Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m. Amanda Filipi, outdoor education specialist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said the event is designed for all ages and is especially ideal for anyone looking to start a new hobby. She …

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Fishing ponds being drained at Fort Robinson State Park

CRAWFORD, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has begun draining Grabel Ponds and Cherry Creek Pond at Fort Robinson State Park. The draining is making way for the first phase of an Aquatic Habitat Program project to improve conditions for fish and anglers at the two ponds, along with the Cherry Creek diversion pond and the lower Ice House Pond. Some areas will be closed to the public as construction begins later this spring. The project will deepen …

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Bighorn sheep hunt is big gift for Auburn man

Dave Hunter with ram

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Christmas is just around the corner, but it was Father’s Day that brought a southeast Nebraska man and his son to northwest Nebraska this month for an experience of a lifetime. As a Father’s Day gift, Greg Hunter of Johnson has entered Nebraska’s bighorn sheep permit lottery each of the past four years for his father, Dave Hunter of Auburn. It proved a good investment as the elder Hunter’s name was the one drawn in the lottery …

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Family Bird Count set for Lake Minatare

MINATARE, Neb. — The public is invited to attend a special birdwatching event at Scout’s Rest Campground of Lake Minatare State Recreation Area. The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are conducting the Family Christmas Bird Count at the lake on Dec. 15 from 9-11 a.m. The lake is closed from Oct. 15-Jan. 15 each year as part of the North Platte National Wildlife Refuge, but is opening for this exclusive event. The Bird …

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Fire officials plan to begin burning piles

CHADRON, Neb. — Beginning Monday, Dec. 3, and as weather allows over the next few weeks, fire officials in forested areas of the northern Panhandle plan to burn slash piles. Both the Pine Ridge Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission plan to ignite piles during the next several weeks. The agencies will notify the public about specific locations as the burning begins. At various times, smoke will likely be visible …

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Free public seminar set to explore Pine Ridge ecosystem, landowner opportunities

CHADRON, Neb. – Attendees of a free one-day seminar at Chadron State College will learn about the extraordinary natural resources of the Pine Ridge and efforts aimed to help their cause. The Pine Ridge Biodiversity and Land Management Seminar will be Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Student Center. Erin Divine of Chadron, coordinating wildlife biologist for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, said the event provides an opportunity for the public to learn about management projects …

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DIY Fishing Rod Cases

Slamming car doors, shifting cargo, stumbling feet. Each has been unkind to my fishing rods more times than I care to admit. After a fly rod somehow broke while riding freely in my truck bed this spring, it was time to take action to keep it from happening again. Of course, many excellent rod cases are available from retailers. After some research, though, I found a simple design created from a favorite inexpensive building material – PVC pipe. Not only …

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Many activities set for Halloween in the Hollow

LEWELLEN, Neb. – Ash Hollow State Historical Park invites the public to celebrate with the “ghosts of the Oregon Trail” during Halloween in the Hollow on Saturday, Oct. 27. The annual event, a cooperative effort between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Friends of Ash Hollow, will be noon to 7 p.m. at the park. Halloween at the Hollow features children’s games, concessions, archery, crafts, costume contests and more from noon to 4 p.m. At 4 o’clock attention …

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New boat launch opening at Box Butte Reservoir

Boat ramp construction

HEMINGFORD, Neb. — Construction is wrapping up for the upgraded boat launch facility at Box Butte State Recreation Area and its new ramp is expected to be open for this weekend’s visitors. Husker Engineering of Burwell is completing final touches on the new handicapped-accessible launch, considered a big improvement over the old one. The ramp includes two 16-foot-wide lanes and a dock in the middle that adjusts to changing water levels. While the ramp is operational under current conditions, installation …

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Wildfire exercises planned at Buffalo Creek WMA

GERING, Neb. – The Gering Fire Department is gearing up for its Wildland Engine Academy, which consists of training exercises at Buffalo Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Wildcat Hills on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9. Chris Becker, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife biologist, said hunters should be aware that burning will be occurring at various locations on the property and should take the event into consideration if they plan to pursue game there this weekend. Becker said …

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