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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.

Night sky is topic of Wildcat Hills program

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GERING, Neb. – Attendees of a program at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area will observe and learn about the night sky. The program gets underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. The presenter is Tom Robinson, a Western Nebraska Community College instructor who teaches astronomy. Robinson said attendees will meet at the nature center for an introductory video provided by Hyde Memorial Observatory of Lincoln, then move to the east end of the park …

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A magical time in northwestern Nebraska

Spring and early summer is a magical time of year that leaves us too quickly. It seems I never get out with the cameras as much as I want to during this period, but usually end up with a few keeper images, anyway. Here is a collection of random photos from recent weeks. I am often amused when any given chamber of commerce or tourism bureau brags on its sunrises and sunsets being the best. (Since we are all watching …

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Wildcat Hills: A Wild Place

Whether you’re looking for state-of-the-art facilities, or just a great view in the pines, this Panhandle park has it. High on the list of Nebraska’s captivating scenery and natural assets are the Wildcat Hills. It seems an understatement to label this topographical spectacle as “hills,” as it is actually a land of rugged buttes, ridges and canyons with topographical elements rising upwards to 1,000 feet above the North Platte Valley. Some of the state’s most recognizable landforms – Chimney Rock, …

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The Divine Devil’s Den

Scientists of yesteryear agree: this crevice in far northwestern Nebraska is in a class by itself. Western Nebraska has many landforms labeled canyons. Each contradicts Nebraska’s “flat” stereotype, but a true box canyon – one featuring steep walls on each side with single access for entrance and exit – is a rarity in the state. One site in the northwest corner of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s northwestern-most property fills the bill as such even though it does not …

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Fort Robinson restaurant back to normal hours

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CRAWFORD, Neb. – The restaurant at Fort Robinson State Park will return to its normal operating hours Saturday, June 29. The restaurant, located in the park’s headquarters, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It has been operating on an abbreviated schedule this month because of a staffing shortage.

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Bat program next up in state park speaker series

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CRAWFORD, Neb. — A summer speaker series in northwestern Nebraska’s two state parks continues with a program about the fascinating and often misunderstood flying mammals of the night — bats. Amanda Filipi, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, will deliver the presentation Friday, June 28, at 8 p.m. It will be at Fort Robinson State Park’s Soldier Creek Campground shelter house, just off U.S. Highway 20. The program is targeted to park visitors of all ages. The …

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Forsberg exhibit on display at Wildcat Hills

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GERING, Neb. – A traveling photography exhibit by renowned nature photographer Michael Forsberg of Lincoln is on display at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area through Aug. 20. Forsberg will greet the public during a reception Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the center’s Ponderosa Room. Forsberg’s imagery of wildlife and landscapes has long been revered for its contribution to conservation. His honors include the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra …

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Cottonwood Lake reopens

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MERRIMAN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has reopened Cottonwood Lake State Recreation Area. Park superintendent Diane Burress said visitors to the park should be cautious and choose camping areas wisely. Shallow water remains over the paved entrance road in places, and some camping areas are still flooded or muddy. Flooding prompted closure of the Sandhills park in late May.

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Chadron State Park celebrating 98th anniversary

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CHADRON, Neb. – Chadron State Park, which became Nebraska’s first state park in 1921, will celebrate its 98th anniversary with its annual celebration Saturday, June 8. New to the event this year is the Kiwanis Regatta canoe race, which is being moved from its usual date later in the summer. Registration begins at the park’s pond at 2 p.m. The Run for the Hills foot races, which include a 5k, 10k and a shorter fun-run or walk over the rugged …

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Bird Photography: The First 99

One shutter-button press at a time, the bird photos add up. What the Nebraska Panhandle may lack in diversity of bird life when compared to eastern Nebraska it more than makes up for in its varied landscape. That variation, from the towering sandstone buttes through the pine forests, sandhill lakes, riparian woodlands, grasslands, croplands and even residential areas, is home to a diversity of birds, and some bird-watching gems found nowhere else in the state. Joel Jorgensen, nongame bird program …

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