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justin haag

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a public information officer for the Commission, also 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 enjoy introducing their two children to the many outdoor recreational opportunities of the Pine Ridge region.

Wildcat Hills Bioblitz identifies 141 species

Young "citizen scientists"

GERING, Neb. – Participants of the Wildcat Hills Bioblitz at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering observed 141 species of plants, animals and insects Friday night and Saturday morning, July 7-8. About 70 volunteers became “citizen scientists” in taking a survey of the area from 1 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday. Amber Schiltz of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies said good fortune came to the event from the start as a wild six-lined racerunner, a small lizard species, …

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Chadron State Park event explores ‘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 8, 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 deck near the park’s office at 8:30 p.m. The activity is open to the public free of charge, but a park …

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Disc golf, canoe races set at Chadron State Park

Disc golf player

CHADRON, Neb. – Amateur disc golfers and canoeists are being invited to participate in fun competitions at Chadron State Park on Sunday, July 9. As part of Chadron’s annual Fur Trade Days celebration, the park will be the site of the inaugural Disc Golf Challenge at 1 p.m., followed by the Kiwanis Fur Trade Regatta, the yearly canoe race, at 3 p.m. Each event will begin with registration at the shelter near the park’s lagoon 30 minutes prior to start. …

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Pioneering Pine Ridge wildlife management

Young Lon Lemmon at prescribed fire

CRAWFORD, Neb. – When tourists catch sight of a bighorn sheep in the Pine Ridge, or a herd of bison grazing at Fort Robinson State Park, they likely give little thought to the people responsible for those animals being there. One such person is Lon Lemmon, a life-long resident of the Crawford area who was at the forefront of many projects resulting in the wild animals and lands people enjoy today during his 39-year career with the Nebraska Game and …

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Low water levels at Ice House Pond on Fort Robinson State Park

CRAWFORD, Neb. – A broken dam board in the outlet structure at the lower Ice House Pond on Fort Robinson State Park caused the water level to drop about 10 feet during the weekend. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has been in the process of designing aquatic habitat and angler access improvements for all fishing areas on Fort Robinson State Park and the aging outlet structure on the lower Ice House Pond was identified as needing repairs or replacement. …

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Grand opening set for Wildcat Hills Nature Center and Shooting Complex

The newly expanded and renovated Wildcat Hills Nature Center

GERING, Neb. — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is inviting the public to celebrate the completed construction at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center and Shooting Complex during a grand opening Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The festivities will begin just south of the nature center with remarks and a ribbon cutting by Commission officials and partners involved with the two projects. A free hot dog lunch will be available while supplies last, and guided tours and other activities …

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Chadron State Park celebrating 96th anniversary

CHADRON, Neb. — Chadron State Park will again celebrate its distinction as Nebraska’s first state park with its 96th anniversary Saturday, June 10. Activities will take place at various locations throughout the park beginning at 9 a.m. At the park’s group meeting facility, visitors can dine on a lunch of bison sloppy joes or hot dogs for 96 cents each – a price that goes up a penny a year to reflect the park’s age. The band Cheap Date will …

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Fisheries work by horse and mule

Packhorse along Soldier Creek

Sometimes, if you want to get where the fish are, you have to go where other people are not. Such was the case for fisheries biologists in the Pine Ridge last week, as they recruited the help of a Game and Parks Commissioner, a Wyoming outfitter, and six four-legged friends to study one of Nebraska’s most remote public fishing areas. With the help of horses and mules owned by Commissioner Rick Brandt of Roca and outfitter Casey Cary of Powell, …

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Incentives available for landowners to improve pheasant habitat, hunting access

CHADRON, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is urging Panhandle landowners to enroll in programs to improve habitat for upland game birds and other wildlife while providing public hunting access. The programs are key components of the Commission’s Berggren Plan, a five-year initiative for improving pheasant hunting in Nebraska. “These programs not only provide incredible conservation benefits, but also help families get into the field to enjoy the state’s hunting heritage,” said Matt Steffl, the Commission’s northwest district …

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Disc golfers to compete in 3-disc challenge at Chadron State Park

Disc golf player

CHADRON – As many as 45 disc golfers are expected to compete Saturday, May 27, in the first Chadron State Park Gateway 3-disc Challenge, a tournament set at the park’s popular course which was recently expanded from nine to 18 holes with many new baskets and the addition of concrete tee boxes. Tournament organizer Jesse Ottman of Alliance said 33 players had signed up by Monday morning, already exceeding his expectations for turnout. He said many players are bringing campers …

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