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Afield and Afloat

Here’s Your Sign

caterpiller

Sometimes nature sends obvious signs about what a person should not touch. Cacti, yucca plants, porcupines and rattlesnakes have signals akin to a flashing billboard. Then there are more devious dangers such rash-inducing urushiol on unassuming poison ivy plants. I am not sure where the subject of the following story fits into that spectrum, but I now know I should have been paying a little closer attention to some signs. “Ohhh, look at the fuzzy caterpillar,” my 10-year-old daughter Kiera …

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Success in the Salt Marsh

The sun sets as shadows fall over a saline wetland and a muskrat hut at the Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve.

It is just before dawn in Nebraska’s eastern saline wetlands. You sit quietly on the edge of a salt marsh – a nearly level pan of sparse vegetation and mud. Just in front of you water laps in rhythmic beats at the shoreline. On the opposite shore, the growing light gently begins to fill in the dark spaces, giving definition to the dusky shapes that have been murmuring in the distance. They are a mixed flock of shorebirds and waterfowl …

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Another round of Carp-O-Rama

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) hosted its sixth annual Carp-O-Rama at Lake Maloney State Recreation Area (SRA) this month. The event was a huge success according to the smiles seen and laughter heard. Game and Parks staff was on hand to assist the public and answer any questions about carp fishing and those that have never tried it were inquisitive and excited about the process. On the other hand, some folks come to the event every year, just …

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Walgren Lake among July magazine topics

Cottonwood trees at Walgren Lake

The July issue of NEBRASKAland magazine is out and in it you will find a little story about one of the Panhandle’s quiet out-of-the-way places to fish and camp – Walgren Lake State Recreation Area. My family and I often bank on Walgren, located just southeast of Hay Springs, for a quick fishing trip or an overnighter. The article highlights much of the lake’s colorful history, dating back to the 1920s when the state fish and game agency obtained ownership …

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‘Reel in’ that discarded fishing line

NEFGA Recycling Bin

As soon as we arrived at the Chadron City Ponds for a short family fishing excursion, our dog Benny’s attention turned to the shoreline. His eyes were fixed on a bird dangling upside down from the rushes. Sadly, just as I suspected, the American robin had become tangled in fishing line. That bird flew off with a dangling leg for an undetermined fate as soon as I clipped the braided line free – a better fate than many of the …

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‘The basics’ weigh heavy in boat safety

Lake Minatare water scooter

As the temperature heats up, so does the activity at our lakes. Each summer, Nebraska’s lakes bring great memories to countless visitors who board boats and water scooters. There are few better ways to beat the heat on a summer afternoon than by skimming across the water. Unfortunately, the occasional bad accident puts a damper on the fun – an accident that in most cases could be prevented by taking common safety measures. Scott Eveland of Ogallala has been a …

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Plastic prevalence: Kayaks continue to gain popularity

Kayaks at Carter P. Johnson Lake

Just over a decade ago, I purchased a kayak from an outfitter in Texas — the nearest place I could find what I wanted. For quite a while after that, it seemed I was the only one on the water up this way using this type of vessel for fishing. That’s changed. It has been fun watching the popularity of these boats grow. While I certainly have enjoyed my big green hunk of plastic for its convenience, functionality and price, …

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‘Granddaddy of them all’ remains a gem

This is a big week for Chadron State Park,  the Nebraska attraction I call the “granddaddy of them all.” Chadron State Park. The park, which serves as a serene Pine Ridge getaway, gets that designation for being the first state park in a system that now has 77 diverse properties throughout Nebraska. On June 9, Chadron State Park will celebrate its 97th anniversary, and consequently the 97th anniversary of our state park system. The park actually got its beginning 99 …

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Fort Robinson all saddled up for summer

Fort Robinson Rodeo

Nebraska has eight state parks and another 69 properties within our state park system. The largest of all of these is right in our neighborhood – the 22,000-acre Fort Robinson State Park. One of the most challenging questions people not overly familiar with our region ask is, “What is there to do at Fort Robinson?” That is certainly not because I am hard-pressed to find things for  them to do at the former U.S. Cavalry fort. It is because the …

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Pursuing the parks – a great value

Campground Trail at Chadron State Park

It is late May, spring has finally sprung, and only the most ardent of homebodies are not excited about getting outdoors. It is no secret — some of the best places to enjoy that time outdoors is at our state parks. From horseback riding to swimming, the parks are putting their activities and amenities into full gear this month. While the parks may be open and enjoyable year-around, the first official day of the busy season is May 26. I …

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