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justin haag

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a public information officer for the Commission, also 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 enjoy introducing their two children to the many outdoor recreational opportunities of the Pine Ridge region.

Thinning project beginning at Fort Robinson State Park

Sunset at Saddle Rock

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Fort Robinson State Park will soon enjoy the benefits of a forest and woodland management project. To encourage forest health and improve wildlife habitat, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has contracted the thinning of ponderosa pine trees in a 97-acre portion of the 22,000-acre park. Most of the thinning area is on property that surrounds Saddle Rock, the prominent landform at the eastern end of the Red Cloud Buttes. About 20 acres of the thinning area …

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Improvements completed at Whitney Lake boat launch

Boat ramp expansion

CHADRON, Neb. — Boaters at Whitney Lake Wildlife Management Area should have an easier time getting on and off the water thanks to improvements at the lake’s launching site. The Whitney Lake Fishing Club collaborated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to widen the lake’s 150-foot concrete boat ramp and replace its dilapidated dock with a new model. Because of Whitney Lake’s role as an irrigation reservoir, the seasonal rise and fall of its water level had long posed …

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Outdoor programs designed for homeschool, preschool students

GERING, Neb. – Homeschool and preschool students will learn about the great outdoors with a nine-month series of free educational programs getting underway at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center this month. The programs will tackle a new topic each month with age-appropriate material. Programs for homeschool students will be the second Tuesday of each month and a program of a similar topic will be presented for preschool students the following day. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education …

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A Small Dose of Darkness at Bighorn

I will not count it among easiest photo assignments I have had. Mother Nature says, “Hey, I’m going to give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with challenging lighting situations and because you’re a nature photographer everyone is going to expect you to get great images. You can have from a few seconds to 2½ minutes to get your shot, depending on the spot you choose within this narrow strip through the middle of Nebraska. I may or may not send clouds. …

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Blue Lake closed for eclipse

ALLIANCE, Neb. – As the solar eclipse nears the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has closed access to Blue Lake, a public fishing site on private property 22 miles north of Oshkosh in Garden County. Commission officials are taking the action with concerns that inexperienced drivers may encounter difficulties navigating the two-track trail leading to the Sandhills lake. The lake will reopen Wednesday, Aug. 23. Because the trail and lake are on private property, the Commission takes special measures to …

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Bat program coming to Chadron State Park

Children Watching Bats at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. — The public is invited to learn about bats during a program at Chadron State Park this week. Participants will meet at the park’s lagoon shelter Friday, Aug. 11, at 8 p.m. Specialists from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln will present the program about the often-misunderstood flying mammals. Program attendees are expected to get a close look at bats. UNL researchers are in the region this week collecting data, and …

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Researchers studying bighorn lamb deaths

Bighorn sheep lamb with collar

CHADRON, Neb. – Disease issues have once again struck bighorn sheep lambs in northwestern Nebraska’s Pine Ridge, but a comprehensive research project is on track to counter the maladies. Todd Nordeen, the Nebraska Game and Park Commission’s big game research and disease program manager, said all 21 lambs equipped with tracking collars in May and June have died – almost all to pneumonia. While pneumonia is the cause, Commission biologists want to know what pathogens are triggering the disease. They …

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Racin’ and ‘Reckin’ at the Regatta

Alpine and Rick Hickstein

With Chadron’s Fur Trade Days celebration nearing, a photo on the shelf caught my eye last week. It was a black and white image from my first entry in the Fur Trade Regatta, an annual canoe race at Chadron State Park. That year, I teamed up with Bart Hughes, a coworker at the Chadron Record. It blew my mind to think that photo was taken 20 years ago. The Fur Trade Days Regatta at Chadron State Park might not be …

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Ranger programs ramping up at Fort Robinson, Chadron state parks

CHADRON, Neb. – A series of ranger programs is ramping up at Fort Robinson State Park and Chadron State Park this week. The educational programs, which address a wide variety of nature and history topics, are produced as a collaboration between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and the U.S. Forest Service’s Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center. The events at Chadron State Park will be at the Trading Post. Those at Fort Robinson will convene …

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