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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.

Full Day of Activity Set for Chadron State Park Celebration

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Chadron State Park will celebrate its distinction as Nebraska’s first state park and its 95th anniversary Saturday, June 11, with a wide variety of activities for all ages. Park employees are encouraging people to spend the entire day, as all of the park’s regular activities will be in full swing along with many special offerings at the Trading Post and other locations. Start and end times of the activities vary from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but almost all of …

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Bioblitz Invites ‘Citizen Scientists’ to Oliver Reservoir

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Members of the public are invited to become citizen scientists during the Bioblitz, a 24-hour program at Oliver Reservoir west of Kimball on Friday and Saturday, June 17-18. Led by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, the free family event will allow participants to discover and celebrate western Nebraska wildlife. A bioblitz is an event where members of the public become “citizen scientists” and work with biologists to survey a particular area, recording all plants and animals they can find. …

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Road Opened to Blue Lake

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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has opened the access road to Blue Lake in the Sandhills of Garden County. The 2.7-mile two-track trail through private property has been impassable in recent weeks because of high water in the area. Joe Rydell, a Commission fisheries biologist, said portions of the trail have been rerouted to higher elevations to make the lake accessible. Blue Lake is a popular fishing destination 22 miles north of Oshkosh near the Crescent Lake Wildlife Management …

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Fishing the Sticks

Kayaking in trees

The high country of the Nebraska Panhandle is about as far as one can get from what’s considered to be swampland. It is, however, a place you can find a little taste of most outdoor experiences if you look for them. Among my favorite fishing excursions each spring and early summer is taking the kayaks into the flooded timber of Box Butte Reservoir State Recreation Area, one of the Panhandle’s irrigation lakes that have much higher water levels in spring …

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State Park Summer Speaker Series Begins Friday

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A summer series of Friday night informational and entertaining programs in northwestern Nebraska’s two state parks kicks off this week. The first presentation, which is Friday, May 27, at 7 p.m. near the Trading Post at Chadron State Park, will guide attendees on how best to enjoy the many popular locations managed by the National Park Service, which turns 100 years old in August. The presenter will be Dr. William Earl, a seasonal ranger for the park service. The series …

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Second Vendor Blender Set at Fort Robinson State Park

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Unique arts and crafts will be on the market during the second annual Vendor Blender at Fort Robinson State Park on Saturday, June 11. More than 30 vendors have signed up to display their products at the Buffalo Barracks and Squad Room from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The many items include essential oils, hand-made furniture and crafts, candy, beadwork, garden crafts, jewelry, photography, western art and décor, weight loss aids, and patriotic crafts. Also, many quilts that have been donated to …

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Swimming Pool Upgrades among Chadron State Park Improvements

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When Chadron State Park opens its many activities this weekend for the summer, return visitors to the swimming pool will be sure to notice improvements. The pool’s bath houses and office have been renovated with new showers, sinks, lockers, benches, countertops and paint. The upgrades not only boost the appeal of the pool, but also make it easier to use for people with disabilities. “We expect these new improvements to be popular with our visitors,” said Gregg Galbraith, park superintendent. …

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Fort Robinson Plans Celebration for Donated Quilts

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Fort Robinson State Park will celebrate the many quilters who have donated their creations to be used in the park’s lodging facilities this summer. Becky Serres, the park superintendent who is in charge of housekeeping, is planning a public tea June 4 from 1-4 p.m. in the Buffalo Soldiers Barracks just west of the park’s headquarters. The event is open to the public free of charge and the quilters have received an invitation to attend. “We received some really great …

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June Boating Safety Courses Set for Panhandle

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The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is offering its mandatory boating safety course at several locations in the Panhandle in June. Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator, including drivers of personal watercraft such as Jet Skis, born after Dec. 31, 1985, to complete one of the two types of boating safety courses and be in possession of a course certificate. Operators must be 14 years old to drive motorboats and personal watercraft in Nebraska. Home-study format, in which participants download …

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Flooding Prompts Closure of Some Bridgeport SRA Campsites

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials are advising that about half of the campsites at Bridgeport State Recreation are closed because of flooding within the park. Gary Shoemaker, the park superintendent who manages Bridgeport SRA, said Tuesday that many of the campsites and roads in the northwest corner of the park are underwater because of the rising North Platte River. Sites on the east side remain open. Park employees will continue to monitor the situation and open the campsites as …

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