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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.

Public invited to plant trees at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. – The public is invited to assist Boy Scouts on Saturday, Oct. 7, in planting about 2,500 ponderosa pine seedlings in areas burned by the 2012 wildfire at Chadron State Park. Volunteers should arrive at the park’s campground between 7:30-8 a.m. in work attire. The plantings, which will occur at various points throughout the park, are expected wrap up early in the afternoon. Helping organize the effort are park staff, employees of the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources …

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Bioblitz returning to Chadron State Park

Bioblitz presentation

CHADRON — The public is invited to join Chadron State Park’s second annual Bioblitz on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 29-30. The park’s group event facility will serve as headquarters for the more than dozen surveys and activities, which will take place at locations throughout the park. The free event will allow participants young, old and in-between to discover and celebrate western Nebraska wildlife. A bioblitz is an event where members of the public become “citizen scientists” and work with biologists …

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Thinning project beginning at Fort Robinson State Park

Sunset at Saddle Rock

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Fort Robinson State Park will soon enjoy the benefits of a forest and woodland management project. To encourage forest health and improve wildlife habitat, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has contracted the thinning of ponderosa pine trees in a 97-acre portion of the 22,000-acre park. Most of the thinning area is on property that surrounds Saddle Rock, the prominent landform at the eastern end of the Red Cloud Buttes. About 20 acres of the thinning area …

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Improvements completed at Whitney Lake boat launch

Boat ramp expansion

CHADRON, Neb. — Boaters at Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area should have an easier time getting on and off the water thanks to improvements at the lake’s launching site. The Whitney Lake Fishing Club collaborated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to widen the lake’s 150-foot concrete boat ramp and replace its dilapidated dock with a new model. Because of Whitney Lake’s role as an irrigation reservoir, the seasonal rise and fall of its water level had long posed …

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Hunting Big Grass

Hunting Big Grass

Upland bird hunting properties with public access, especially those with large expanses of seemingly uniform cover, can be intimidating. Where will you be when the season rolls around? Nebraska’s properties with public access may be found in the latest edition of the Public Access Atlas. Written by Justin Haag

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Outdoor programs designed for homeschool, preschool students

GERING, Neb. – Homeschool and preschool students will learn about the great outdoors with a nine-month series of free educational programs getting underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center this month. The programs will tackle a new topic each month with age-appropriate material. Programs for homeschool students will be the second Tuesday of each month and a program of a similar topic will be presented for preschool students the following day. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education …

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A Small Dose of Darkness at Bighorn

I will not count it among easiest photo assignments I have had. Mother Nature says, “Hey, I’m going to give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with challenging lighting situations and because you’re a nature photographer everyone is going to expect you to get great images. You can have from a few seconds to 2½ minutes to get your shot, depending on the spot you choose within this narrow strip through the middle of Nebraska. I may or may not send clouds. …

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Blue Lake closed for eclipse

ALLIANCE, Neb. – As the solar eclipse nears the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has closed access to Blue Lake, a public fishing site on private property 22 miles north of Oshkosh in Garden County. Commission officials are taking the action with concerns that inexperienced drivers may encounter difficulties navigating the two-track trail leading to the Sandhills lake. The lake will reopen Wednesday, Aug. 23. Because the trail and lake are on private property, the Commission takes special measures to …

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Bat program coming to Chadron State Park

Children Watching Bats at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. — The public is invited to learn about bats during a program at Chadron State Park this week. Participants will meet at the park’s lagoon shelter Friday, Aug. 11, at 8 p.m. Specialists from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln will present the program about the often-misunderstood flying mammals. Program attendees are expected to get a close look at bats. UNL researchers are in the region this week collecting data, and …

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Researchers studying bighorn lamb deaths

Bighorn sheep lamb with collar

CHADRON, Neb. – Disease issues have once again struck bighorn sheep lambs in northwestern Nebraska’s Pine Ridge, but a comprehensive research project is on track to counter the maladies. Todd Nordeen, the Nebraska Game and Park Commission’s big game research and disease program manager, said all 21 lambs equipped with tracking collars in May and June have died – almost all to pneumonia. While pneumonia is the cause, Commission biologists want to know what pathogens are triggering the disease. They …

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