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renae blum

Renae works for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and has written for NEBRASKAland Magazine and the Lincoln Journal Star.

Three Outdoor Apps

By Renae Blum Wish your kids spent more time outdoors and less time in front of a screen? It’s a common concern. Rather than cutting out electronics completely, a phone can be a great tool in helping spark a child’s curiosity and interest in the outdoors. Give the three apps below a try. All are free, available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store — and can enrich your family’s experience of the outdoors. Merlin Bird ID Kids …

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Five Wonderful Winter Trails

By Renae Blum Get outdoors this winter and enjoy the invigorating fresh air of a winter’s day on a Nebraska state park trail. These five trails are excellent choices, offering wildlife viewing, shelter from the wind and beautiful, scenic views to appreciate. Bring a friend and take in the unique beauty that this time of year offers. Turkey Run Trail – Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area Shielded from the winter wind, this 1.2-mile trail at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area …

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Tapping for Liquid Gold

Story and photos by Renae Blum The tree sap begins to flow. It looks — and almost tastes — like water. But, after being boiled for an hour, it reduces into what Dan Hejl calls “liquid gold” — syrup he collects himself. It’s a tradition Hejl looks forward to every year. The Pleasant Dale, Nebraska, man collects sap from the same woods he hunts in, and gifts landowners with a jar of the highly prized black walnut syrup. Black walnut …

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Winter Wildlife Watching

By Renae Blum Winter is a great time to explore the outdoors and look for wildlife. While some species have migrated or are hibernating, quite a few are still active at this time of year. And thanks to fewer leaves on the trees, they’re easier to spot, too. Watchable Wildlife biologist Olivia DaRugna offered these tips for enjoying wildlife watching this winter. What species can I see? Winter is a great time to watch for bald eagles. They can be …

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11 Top Picks for Fall Camping at Nebraska State Parks

By Renae Blum Looking for a place to go camping this fall? You can’t go wrong with a Nebraska state park. All are great choices, but these 11 stand out for their camping amenities and activities to enjoy during your stay. Pick one near you and enjoy a camping adventure with family and friends this fall. Indian Cave State Park Campers can experience some of Nebraska’s best fall color at Indian Cave State Park. The park’s hardwood forest puts on …

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The Butterfly Explorers

Story and photos by Renae Blum It had been a slow year so far. But not at this moment. Joanne Langabee calls out, “I’ve got an orange and a blue!” Her companion, Holly Hofreiter, responds almost immediately: “I’ve got a Peck’s” — short for Peck’s skipper. One butterfly after another materializes from the prairie grasses at their feet, just seconds apart, but the women aren’t fazed. They continue calling back and forth in a kind of butterfly shorthand, identifying new …

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Picnic at Nebraska State Parks

10 state parks that offer great picnicking By Renae Blum Picnicking is a great way to relax, enjoy the outdoors and bond with friends and family. If you’re looking for your next picnic spot, consider a Nebraska state park. Nearly all parks offer picnic areas, and the best spots combine shade trees, nicely mowed areas, conveniently located restrooms, and plenty of activities to enjoy before and after your meal. Here are 10 state parks to consider when planning your next …

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Six of Nebraska’s Family Friendly Fishing Lakes

By Renae Blum Looking for a place to go fishing with the family? Nebraska Game and Parks has identified dozens of public fishing waters across the state that are perfect for families – known as Family Friendly Lakes. These sites are safe, comfortable and have great fish-catching potential. They also have a combination of barrier-free fishing piers, fishing trails, groomed park areas, concessions, playgrounds, picnic areas and highly maintained fish populations. Here are several Family Friendly Lakes to put on …

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In Hot Pursuit

Story and photos by Renae Blum It had already been an enjoyable day: wading in Pawnee Lake, picnicking along the shore, chasing Frisbees and etching names in the sand. But it was perhaps a simple green post that garnered the most excitement of all. “I see it! I see it!” Spotting the familiar outline along a wooded trail, Kenzie and Ellie Muma of Papillion took off at a breakneck pace, racing to get there first. Once their laughing parents caught …

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A Second Chance

A Retired Wildlife Ecologist Gives Back At first sight, a plains pocket mouse makes a lasting impression. There’s only one word for it: cute. It’s tiny and delicate-looking, with small ears and fur-lined cheek pouches. Retired wildlife ecologist Mike Schrad can identify one in seconds, as he does on this cool October morning, striding through a restored prairie near Wood River, Nebraska. He lifts one from a live trap baited with oatmeal and birdseed, and hands it me to warm …

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