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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.

Campers may reserve sites at Box Butte

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HEMINGFORD, Neb. – Campers planning to visit Box Butte Reservoir State Recreation Area on May 1 and after will be able to reserve a site. Beginning this year, half of the reservoir’s 40 campsites, each of which are located near the shore with a fire ring and picnic table, are being added to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s reservation system. That consists of 13 basic sites with no electricity, six sites with 50-amp electricity and four sites with 20/30-amp …

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Est. 1921 – Chadron State Park

Western Eden, Where It All Began Under the headline of “Western Eden,” the front page of the July 8, 1921, Chadron Journal proclaimed that the Nebraska Legislature had “builded better than it knew” by creating its first state park. “For years to come all of Nebraska’s citizendom can point with honest pride to Nature’s play ground near its western boundary. It is an inspiration to view this locality, and to walk its cool shady paths with the knowledge that it …

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Panhandle, Sandhills offer spring fishing opportunities

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ALLIANCE, Neb. — As the ice melts and days get longer, spring fishing opportunities heat up in western Nebraska. Whether anglers want a Frye Lake crappie or a Fort Robinson trout, Joe Rydell, a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s northwest district, said spring brings diverse angling opportunities throughout the region. From data gathered from last year’s fish surveys and other observations, Rydell has some predictions of where anglers will have success this spring. Some of his …

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Spring equinox is program topic

GERING, Neb. – A virtual program from the Wildcat Hills Nature Center will explore the traditions and celebrations of the spring equinox. The program will be 10 a.m. MST on Saturday, March 13. The spring equinox, which is the astronomical first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, is March 20 this year. After the equinox, the northern half of the globe will begin tilting closer to the sun. Amanda Filipi, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist …

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Infrastructure upgrades highlight Lake Minatare projects

MINATARE, Neb. – When camping season hits its stride, visitors to Lake Minatare State Recreation Area will enjoy many improvements that were made in 2020. At Lake View, the area of the park that features the 55-foot lighthouse observation tower, workers have replaced the shower’s wastewater system and upgraded electrical service to campsites. Dan Thornton, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission superintendent who manages the park, said the projects may not be obvious to the naked eye, but that they …

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New shelter constructed at Merritt Reservoir

Merritt Reservoir Shelter

VALENTINE, Neb. – Visitors to Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area have a new place to gather the shade. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently installed a new 988-square-foot shelter at the Cedar Bay area. The $100,000 cost of the project was equally divided between the Game and Parks Capital Maintenance Fund and a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Cedar Bay, which features 46 campsites, is one of eight campgrounds at the 2,900-acre reservoir. The new shelter is …

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Many improvements coming to Fort Robinson State Park

Fort Rob headquarters

CRAWFORD, Neb. – In addition to a $1.27 million campground expansion, a long list of other improvements is in the works at Fort Robinson State Park. Many of the items are maintenance on the park’s buildings, most of which date back to the 1800s when the park was a base for the U.S. Cavalry and which now serve as lodging, but there is some new construction, too. “Providing the modern amenities that park goers want in a place that has …

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Fort Robinson State Park expanding campsites for RVs

CRAWFORD, Neb. – There will be more happy campers at Fort Robinson State Park. Or, at least there will be room for them. The park is adding 42 new pads to the Red Cloud Campground, which serves visitors seeking full hookups for their recreational vehicles and campers. Each pad will have connections for 50-amp electricity, water and sewage. The expansion will more than double the size of the campground, which has 32 pads. Mike Morava, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission …

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Big upgrades, big year underway at Chadron State Park

CHADRON, Neb. — A big year calls for big improvements for Nebraska’s first state park. Chadron State Park, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021, has been the subject of sizable upgrades and new construction at points throughout its 977 acres. “This is a special year for us, and I’m thankful for those who have worked to make sure the park is in tip-top shape come summer,” said Gregg Galbraith, park superintendent. Perhaps the most noticeable project is the …

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Ice-fishing underway at some Panhandle lakes

ALLIANCE, Neb. – Many anglers have been enjoying the popular pastime of ice-fishing in recent weeks, even though mild temperatures have caused conditions to vary greatly throughout ponds and reservoirs in the Nebraska Panhandle. Locations that have drawn anglers include Box Butte State Recreation Area, Smith Lake Wildlife Management Area, Frye Lake WMA, Walgren SRA, Island Lake on the Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Chadron City Reservoirs. Sean McKeehan, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission conservation officer, said …

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