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Nebraska Oranges

Nebraska has oranges? Well, no, not really. But, sort of. Osage orange isn’t an orange though it may look like a bright yellow to yellow-green, grapefruit-sized, brainy-looking type of orange fruit. It is a fruit of the Osage orange tree, that is. However, the tree is more closely related to the mulberry tree. Enter its primary nicknames; hedge apple, hedge ball, and mock orange. Confused? A bit perplexed, are you? Allow me to continue. I bet you’ve seen these wrinkled, …

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Wood-Sorrels

A Burst of Tartness On a hot summer day, I often pop a wood-sorrel’s clover-like leaf into my mouth to experience a burst of citrusy tartness. The practice is a long tradition, as for millennia Native Americans have enjoyed them. Three species of wood-sorrel are native to our state. The yellow-flowered yellow wood-sorrel (Oxalis stricta) and gray wood-sorrel (O. dillenii) are common, weedy species that bloom spring through fall in lawns, gardens, pastures and other disturbed habitats. The former is …

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Go with the flow and float Nebraska’s water trails

Eager to get on the water? Yeah, me, too. This is a perfect time to float Nebraska’s water trails. There are many reasons to take a float trip on continuously flowing water. You can do it for the openness and space that it offers and the adventure of going somewhere you have never been. You can do it to make connections and memories with people and nature, re-trace history, see a variety of wildlife species, get some fresh air and …

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Backpacking the Pine Ridge Trail

An Adventure Story Through work and play, I have been no stranger to the Pine Ridge Trail. Portions of the route that transects the heart of public lands in the Pine Ridge escarpment between Chadron and Crawford have served me well as a way to access scenic landscapes and wildlife, or just enjoy a short hike or bike ride. Though I had been on many parts of the trail, which measures about 40 miles, I had never connected the dots …

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Try Tanking: A Fun Float Trip!

Want something fun, relaxing and unique to do with your family or friends this spring or summer? Well, well. I have an idea for you. How about floating a slow-moving, meandering, scenic Nebraska river downstream in a round, buoyant livestock watering tank? Tank floating on the picturesque Middle Loup River near Mullen, NE. Photo courtesy of Glidden Canoe Rental/The Sandhills Motel. I know what you’re thinking, trust me, I do. But, let me tell you that this is one of …

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Morels Aren’t The Only Edible Mushroom In Spring

Topside photo of a dryad’s saddle, a.k.a. pheasant’s back or hawks wing, in Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Hey, what’s that mushroom? Hmmm … Wonder if it’s edible? Along with finding and picking morel mushrooms, there is another edible wild fungi growing in your moist woodlands that you should know and consider harvesting and making for dinner — the dryad’s saddle. Dryad’s saddle? The dryad’s saddle (Polyporus squamosus) , a.k.a., pheasant’s back mushroom, or hawk’s wing, is …

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Park Memories

Waiting to Be Made It was January 1993. I was in my first month of a dream job as a staff photographer and writer for Nebraskaland Magazine, and I was flustered. Then editor Don Cunningham had placed a large stack of hardbound Nebraskaland volumes on my desk and asked me to become familiar with the material so I could pitch him a few of my own story ideas. Not wanting to fail my first assignment, I pored over roughly two …

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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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A Parks Timeline

Marking 100 Years When Nebraska became a state in 1867, parks — let alone state parks — weren’t needed. Nebraskans of the day, and for years to come, were building homes, farms, businesses and towns, and with all of that work to be done, there was little time for leisure. But the conservation movement had begun, heightening the nation’s awareness of its pristine natural resources and prompting the launch of efforts to preserve them for future generations. The movement led …

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Anxiously Awaiting The First Morels Of The Season

Tersh Kepler of Omaha, NE is pumped. Really pumped! You see, Tersh is one of the Midwest’s foremost experts on morel mushroom hunting and he says the conditions are aligning for what could be a spectacular morel mushroom hunting year. Even though Nebraska’s landscape has been dry and is still technically in a drought, he highlights three reasons for predicting what might be a banner year for morels. “First, we’re two years after a major flood on river bottoms when …

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