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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.

Fleeting scenes of fall

Whether it be the first sign of frost or quickly changing explosion of color, autumn brings a sense of urgency to nature photography. With snow in the forecast this week, scenes such as these seem especially fleeting. When fall foliage bursts to the scene, I often find myself driving the Pine Ridge’s West Ash Creek Road. And stopping for a few photos, of course. Towering cottonwoods, such as this one at Fort Robinson State Park, seem to have benefited from …

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So long, summer

I know everyone is excited for fall, but I would be remiss not to post some scenes from late summer. It is always a good work day when I get to wade in the creek. Such was the case last week when I joined Nebraska fisheries biologists as they stocked about 1,000 cutthroat trout in the middle fork of Soldier Creek and the Wood Reserve Ponds. Here are just a few of those fish leaving the net. The fish, which …

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Open house for new stream section is Tuesday

MITCHELL, Neb. — The Dry Spotted Tail Creek partner group is inviting the public to view the newly completed stream section at the Platte River Basin Environments property west of Mitchell. The area will be open from 5:30-7:30 p.m. MDT on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Anyone interested in supporting conservation efforts is encouraged to attend and visit about the project with representatives from PRBE, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The open house is …

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Stream bank surprise

Photographing Nebraska’s wild animals is always rewarding, but capturing imagery of those that reside only in specific parts of the state is especially gratifying. I was wading up the middle fork of Soldier Creek to capture trout video with Nebraskaland intern Emily Burch last week when this little character, not much bigger than a nightcrawler, caught my eye from its perch below a small overhang. The terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) is one of four garter snake species in Nebraska. …

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Wildfire exercise planned at Cedar Canyon WMA

GERING, Neb. – The Gering Fire Department will again lead fire training exercises on public land in the Panhandle for the annual West Nebraska Engine Academy. This year, the training exercises will be at Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area in the Wildcat Hills on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14-15. Chris Becker, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife biologist, said hunters should be aware that burning will be occurring at various locations on the property and should consider the event …

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Public invited to count species at Chadron State Park bioblitz

CHADRON, Neb. – The public is invited to examine the natural diversity of the Pine Ridge during the fourth annual Chadron State Park Bioblitz on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6-7. A bioblitz challenges attendees to identify as many plants and animal species as possible within a designated area and timeframe. During this bioblitz, members of the public will team up with local natural resources experts to explore and learn about the biodiversity and habitat at Chadron State Park. “This is …

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Sensory backpacks introduced at Wildcat Hills

GERING, Neb. – A new offering at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center has special meaning to the person who implemented it. It is a new checkout program for sensory backpacks. Amanda Filipi, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist who is based at the center, said she learned of sensory backpacks after her nephew was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. “I read about the sensory backpacks popping up in several different places across the nation, like museums and …

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Prescribed fire planned at Bordeaux Creek WMA

CHADRON, Neb. – A habitat restoration project at Bordeaux Creek Wildlife Management Area east of Chadron will soon get a boost by the use of prescribed fire. The burning is set to occur within an area comprising about 10 percent of the 1,841-acre property when conditions are favorable in the coming month. The projected burn area, which is just south of U.S. Highway 20 in the northcentral part of the property, is outside of the pine forest and consists primarily …

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Summer beauty at Gilbert-Baker WMA

Harrison bills itself as “Nebraska’s Top Town,” which is mostly a play on the village’s elevation of 4,876 feet — the highest of all Nebraska communities. Also tops, though, is the scenery and natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, certainly not the least of which is Gilbert-Baker Wildlife Management Area about 6 miles north of town. Here are some images from a recent visit to this remarkable public land. Perhaps one of the best examples of the serenity of Gilbert-Baker …

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New trout stream section to improve habitats near Mitchell

MITCHELL, Neb. – Anglers, fish and a diverse set of wildlife will soon enjoy a new stretch of trout stream in the western Panhandle. Construction is underway to add nearly three-quarters of a mile of trout stream on Dry Spotted Tail Creek just west of Mitchell in Scotts Bluff County. The new stream section, which is being constructed to receive water from the creek’s existing straightened channel, will result in new wetland habitat for many aquatic species and terrestrial wildlife …

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