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Preserving the Pine Ridge

Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged more than half of northwestern Nebraska’s pine forests. Land managers are making strides toward a more sustainable future. On this sunny day, Bryce Gerlach is visiting a timber-thinning project at Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area in the northwest corner of the state. Gerlach, who is a forester funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, likes what he sees. “This is the project that is going to save Gilbert-Baker someday,” he …

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Platte River State Park

I never feel overwhelmed at Platte River State Park. Whether there are thousands of kids attending an Outdoor Discovery day or just a few vehicles, I can always take a deep, relaxing breath whenever I pull into the park. Located three miles from Louisville – between Omaha and Lincoln – the park is a welcomed break from city life. It offers both family-friendly attractions and solace in its 450 acres, even on the busiest of weekends. I love playing with …

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Kearney Water Trail

At 2.3 miles, the Kearney Water Trail is undoubtedly one of the shortest in Nebraska. Despite that fact, it might also be one of the busiest. On any given day from April through October, you’re apt to see kayakers paddling down the trail, which utilizes the Kearney Canal and Turkey Creek on the southwestern corner of this central Nebraska city of 38,000. Its location certainly plays into its popularity. The trail opened in 2016, a joint effort between the city, …

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Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Goes Beyond the Hunt in These Times

As avid spring wild turkey hunters, we possess a major advantage over other outdoor enthusiasts: We know what it feels like to be completely isolated, and to be alone, most notably in a turkey hunting blind for hours. As Henry David Thoreau once said: “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” For us hunters, we are used to sitting alone in different blinds quietly for long periods of time with our thoughts, waiting for a moment …

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A 50-inch Minimum

Merritt Reservoir has long been one of Nebraska’s top fishing destinations. Merritt is an irrigation reservoir, but unlike some others, it fills every year because of the ample flow of the Snake River. It consistently has great water quality and abundant prey fish. And with this year’s adoption of a 50-inch minimum for what many consider to be Nebraska’s greatest fish, the muskellunge, Merritt has entered rarefied air as a trophy fishery. “Merritt has alewives, white suckers and various panfish,” …

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Platte River Water Trail

I’ve paddled many of the state’s rivers, mostly during the past 20 years creating stories on the state’s water trails in this magazine. But until 2018, I hadn’t floated the Platte, despite living a mere 30 miles from its course. By then, my wife, Theresa, and I had owned kayaks for five years, but we mostly paddled lakes around our home in Lincoln. On this day, it wasn’t long before we asked ourselves why we’d waited so long to float …

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Nature is the Respite for Coronavirus Concerns in Nebraska

Though we are in uncharted territory with COVID-19 regarding advisories and mandates, truly there is no better place to gain easy personal solitude or social distancing from the virus than in nature! All state park area grounds are open! They are not closed! They remain open to you for all sorts of outdoor pursuits – Sightseeing, picnicking, running, hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, mushroom hunting, etc. The Cowboy Trail is also open for use. Enjoying time in our state …

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7 Key Early Spring Fishing Tips

There are green shoots of grass growing in the front yard of my Omaha lawn. The sandhill crane migration is nearing its peak in Nebraska’s central Platte River valley. Wild turkeys are entering their breeding phase on our family farm in southeast Nebraska. Oh, and what about the fish that swim where I fish? Hmmm … Are they biting? Spring. It may or may not be here on the calendar just yet, but the time for early spring fishing has …

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2019 Flood: $19 million in Damage

Game and Parks Still Working to Recover For many Nebraskans, 2019 was a tough year. Historic flooding in March sent nearly every river in the eastern half of the state out of its banks, washing out highways, bridges, dams, levees, farms and homes, and killing four people and countless livestock. Flooding along the Missouri River in southeastern Nebraska continued throughout the year. More floods hit south-central Nebraska in July and the northeast in September. It is estimated that the flooding …

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Those Alluring Orbs

When photographing Nebraska’s great places, the moon and the sun are always welcome to the scene. Whether it be the fast-beating wings of a zigzagging teal or the earth-hammering legs of a sprinting pronghorn, a quick “trigger finger” is often necessary for capturing imagery of the region’s natural resources. Perhaps no photo subjects, though, get me in hot pursuit more than two that are the farthest from the camera. One is about 239,000 miles away. The other, almost 93 million …

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