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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.

Program at Chadron State Park Highlights Creatures of the Night

CHADRON, Neb. — Bats, owls and other nocturnal species will be in the spotlight this week as the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission presents its Creatures of the Night program at Chadron State Park. The program, which is open to the public free of charge, will be Saturday, July 30, at 8:30 p.m. beginning at the lagoon shelter. Amanda Filipi, an educator for the Commission, will lead the hike through the dark, in which participants may bring a flashlight or …

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Tonight’s Presentation at Chadron State Park Postponed

This week’s installment of the summer speaker series at northwestern Nebraska’s two state parks has been postponed because of illness. The “Creatures of the Night” presentation at Chadron State Park, which was planned for the night of Friday, July 8, will be rescheduled for a date to be determined. The series will resume Friday, July 15, at Fort Robinson State Park with the same “Creatures of the Night” presentation by Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educator.

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Lake Minatare Programs Put Focus on Fritillaries, Campfires

MINATARE, Neb. — A pair of free programs at Lake Minatare State Recreation Area on Saturday, July 16, will help participants enjoy and appreciate nature and the outdoors. The sessions, which will be at the Scouts Cabin, will teach how to build campfires and inform about the regal fritillary butterfly. The first session, which begins at 9 a.m., will focus on building campfires. By learning about the five most common types of campfires, attendees will gain a valuable tool in …

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Obstacle Course, Canoe Race Set at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. — Chadron State Park is inviting people to attend and afternoon of spirited competition at its annual Fur Trade Funday on Sunday, July 10. The event, part of Chadron’s annual Fur Trade Days celebration, features the Crooked Arrow Obstacle Course at 1 p.m. followed by the Kiwanis Fur Trade Regatta at about 3 p.m. The timed obstacle course near the park’s tennis courts challenges participants to post the best time in navigating a variety of challenges such as …

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Financial Incentives Available for Improving Pheasant Habitat, Access

Agriculture producers in the northern Panhandle are among many Nebraska landowners who may be eligible to earn extra income by helping the region’s pheasant population and other wildlife. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is offering special incentives to landowners within what has been labeled a Pheasant Opportunity Area in Box Butte, Dawes and Sheridan counties. The range of properties has been determined to have the best conditions and potential for pheasant hunting. The Commission is offering $3 per acre …

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Intertribal Powwow Canceled

The Intertribal Gathering Powwow, scheduled for June 18-19 at Fort Robinson State Park, has been canceled. The Friends of the Intertribal Gathering, the committee that oversees the event, decided earlier this week to cancel this year’s powwow, citing a lack of funding that led to a low number of committed participants. The committee is working to bring the powwow back next year. Although the powwow has been called off, the gathering’s popular 5k run is still a go. It will …

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Full Day of Activity Set for Chadron State Park Celebration

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

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

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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