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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.

Moose Triggers Temporary Boating Ban at Bridgeport Lake

Officials of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission have implemented a temporary boating ban on Center Lake at Bridgeport State Recreation Area because of moose activity in the area. Officials say there has been a regular occurrence of at least one moose in and around Center Lake, the largest body of water in the park that is most often used by boaters. A moose has been known to visit an island at the lake in recent weeks. “It’s unfortunate that …

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Free Entry Day Activities Planned for Panhandle Parks

Parks throughout the Panhandle are planning special activities for Free Park Entry and Fishing Day on Saturday, May 16. Free Park Entry and Fishing Day is an annual opportunity in which the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission allows fishing and entry to parks without requiring permits. It provides an opportunity for people to experience the state’s diverse park areas and fishing resources free of charge. Following is a list of special activities at the region’s State Parks, State Recreation Areas …

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Ranch Couple Honored as Fort Robinson Dedicates New Building

The newly reconstructed 1891 Officers Quarters at Fort Robinson State Park was described as “a welcome addition to a world-class place” as it was dedicated in honor of a highly-regarded Sandhills ranch couple during a ceremony Saturday morning. The event at the new building paid tribute to the late Don and Olive Forney of Rushville, whose friends and family contributed a majority of the funding for the $1.7 million building. About 75 percent of the project’s costs came from private …

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Panhandle Passages: Getting a Handle on the Outdoors

One way to get excited about being outdoors is to see the look in kids’ eyes when they catch a fish. If you really want to get excited, watch them catch a big fish with their bare hands. A kid pulling a big carp from a water tank is a scene I’ve witnessed the past three Aprils at the annual Outdoor Discovery Program hosted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at the Scottsbluff Trails West YMCA Camp. More than …

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Dedication Set for New, Historic Fort Robinson Building

The new lodging facility blends the best of old and new. Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford is gearing up to celebrate its reconstruction of an 1891 Officers Quarters, a duplex-style lodge that combines historical features with modern amenities. The public grand opening and dedication will be Saturday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m. MDT near the new building. The short ceremony will be followed by tours of the building. “We are certainly proud to be adding this beautiful, modern facility …

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Watts Lake Renovated to Improve Fishery

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission completed a fish renovation at Watts Lake on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge on March 27 to address an unbalanced fish population triggered by drought conditions in 2012. Fisheries biologist Zac Brashears of Valentine said lower water levels that year caused a partial winterkill in Watts and prompted the problems with the fishery. The primary goal of the renovation was to remove unwanted fish species such as …

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Boating Safety Courses Set Throughout Northwest

Locations from Valentine to Scottsbluff are included in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s statewide effort to offer boating safety courses. The courses are offered by choice of home-study or as a six-hour classroom session. Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator, including drivers of personal watercraft, 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 …

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Fishing Instructors to be Trained in Gering

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will certify youth fishing instructors Sunday, April 26, at Gering from 2-5 p.m. The free workshop will be at Platte Valley Motor Bank, 1850 10th Street. Event organizers say the training provides the skills and necessary materials to encourage the next generation of anglers. Attendees will receive training and tools to conduct fishing clinics. Once certified, the volunteers will have access to Game and Parks’ loaner fishing equipment and educational materials for events, as …

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Wildcat Weekends Series Puts Focus on the Outdoors

The Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering is encouraging outdoor lovers to mark their calendars for its Wildcat Weekends series of events scheduled each month from May through December. The series will kick off Saturday, May 16, with Wildcat Hills Wildlands Day, highlighted by an 8k fun run, children’s crafts and hikes to observe birds, wildflowers and bighorn sheep. Because the event coincides with Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, no Nebraska State Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles …

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Panhandle Passages: Down Home Frog

Every photo that makes it to print in NEBRASKAland Magazine means a lot to me. Few things make a person look fondly upon a time and a place as does a good photo and it’s especially rewarding to see one in print. One particular photo — that of a Boreal chorus frog on pages 46-47 of the April issue — has special meaning to me. Frogs are great and I love the way this species fills the air with song …

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