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Road opens to south side of Chat Canyon WMA

VALENTINE, Neb. – The Nebraska National Forest has opened a road in Cherry County to motor vehicles, improving access to an area of Chat Canyon Wildlife Management Areathat lies south of the Niobrara River.

The road is an existing two-track trail through the Samuel L. McKelvie Forest south of Chat Canyon WMA that was previously open to the public for only non-motorized use. It is one-half mile long, providing a link from Forest Service Road 603 to a quarter-mile easement over private property leading to the WMA.

Previously, the lower portion of the WMA was locked in by this property on the south and the Niobrara River to the north. The only direct motor vehicle access to Chat Canyon WMA was by a county road north of the river.

“This opens a large portion of the WMA that was previously accessible only by walking in or horseback riding from more than a half-mile away,” said Tom Krolikowski, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission land manager in Valentine. “We appreciate the Forest Service making this change to serve hunters and other recreational enthusiasts to enjoy this area.”

Krolikowski said the opening of the road will be especially helpful for young hunters and their mentors.

Chat Canyon WMA consists of 456 acres open to the public and restricted to youth hunting and to elk hunters. Located along a scenic portion of the river, it has prime habitat for deer, elk, turkey, waterfowl and many other game species. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission purchased the property in 2013.

About 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.

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