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Home » Author Archives: Justin Haag, Regional Editor/PIO

Author Archives: Justin Haag, Regional Editor/PIO

Justin Haag serves the Panhandle as a NEBRASKAland’s Regional Editor and Public Information Officer for the Commission. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing and hunting. 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.

Panhandle Passages: One for the Snakes

The snake uses its forked tongue, which many snake-haters find disturbing, to sense chemicals in the air and gain clues of the presence of predators and prey. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

After visiting with a Chadron community service organization last week, I wrapped up the presentation with a slideshow of wildlife photos from western Nebraska and moved on to questions. One question kind of caught me off-guard. A friend in the audience asked why I hadn’t included any photos of snakes. I didn’t even realize that I had not given any time to reptiles, but he was right. I was certainly guilty of favoring other classes above reptiles. Mammals, birds, amphibians ... Read More »

Bird Banding Coming to Chadron State Park, Wildcat Hills

Melanie Mancuso of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory examines a red crossbill that was captured at a bird banding station at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area in August 2013. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The public is invited to get up-close and personal with bird populations at two parks in the Nebraska Panhandle this fall. During the coming month, banding stations will be operating at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering and Chadron State Park near Chadron. The public is invited to join the bird-banders during two special sessions, Saturday, Aug. 30, at Chadron and Saturday, Sept. 13, at Wildcat Hills. Attendees of the informational sessions will watch as biologists retrieve birds from ... Read More »

Try-Athlon Set at Chadron State Park


Community wellness is the goal during the annual Try-Athlon at Chadron State Park this weekend. The annual event, sponsored by the Chadron Lifespan Wellness Team, will be Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3 p.m. Entrants of the Try-Athlon are challenged to swim, bike or run, either individually or with team members. Check-in begins at 2 p.m. at the park swimming pool and participants may sign up and pay the $10 registration fee the day of the event. Organizers bill the event ... Read More »

Where the Carp Goes


An extraordinary aspect to wildlife management these days is the extent to which technology is being used to learn more about animals. It seems telemetry, the process of using tracking devices attached to the animals to collect data, is increasingly being used to monitor a variety of species. In my time with the Game and Parks Commission, I’ve photographed researchers putting collars on animals as big as elk and as small as burrowing owls. I even read an article not ... Read More »

Outdoor Cooking Program Set at Chadron State Park

Dutch oven

  The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has cooked up a program to help people improve their outdoor cuisine. The presentation, led by Commission outdoor education specialist Amanda Filipi, will be at the Chadron State Park Trading Post’s fire pit on Friday, July 25, at 5 p.m. Participants can expect to dine on a delicious meal after learning to cook it using techniques such as Dutch oven, foil and open fire. Filipi encourages people to sign up soon. The registration ... Read More »

Stir Fry at the Camp Site

Camp site stir fry

When it comes to eating at the campsite, our two kids are surely starting to learn: The way we dine is a lot different when their mom comes along. Their dad’s extent of camp cuisine usually involves some bread, packages of lunch meat, brats, and, of course, chips. There are fish to catch and sights to see, after all. When their mom comes along, we’re thankful it’s a different story. When Cricket’s camping, we often eat just as well or ... Read More »

Bighorn Sheep Tours Set for Wildcat Hills, Fort Robinson

Bighorn sheep tour

The public will have an opportunity to view the animals known to be the best rock climbers in western Nebraska’s butte country during morning hikes at two state parks in July. Group hikes to view the region’s wild bighorn sheep are scheduled for two consecutive Saturdays – July 12 at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area south of Gering and Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford on July 19. Hikers will meet at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center for the ... Read More »

Obstacle Course Making Debut at Chadron State Park

Disc golfer

Chadron State Park is introducing a new event to Chadron’s Fur Trade Days line-up. The Crooked Arrow Obstacle Course will challenge participants on a fun-filled route. The event will be Sunday, July 13, at 1 p.m. at the baseball field west of the park’s headquarters. It is open to participants of all ages, who can choose to race individually or in teams of two to four contestants. Gregg Galbraith, park superintendent, said each entry will be timed while dodging a ... Read More »

Western, wildlife art coming to Fort Robinson State Park

Art Show Photo

Beautiful scenes of the West will be on display at the 41st annual Western & Wildlife Art Show at Fort Robinson State Park. The show, a traditional part of Crawford’s annual Fourth of July celebration, will be Tuesday through Friday, July 1-4, at the park’s historic Veterinary Building. The work of 26 select artists from at least five states — featuring subjects such as landscapes, animals, ranchers, cowboys and Native Americans — will be available for viewing and purchase. The ... Read More »

Bird, Tomahawk Programs Set at Chadron State Park

Amanda Filipi and snake

Birds and tomahawks are the topics of a pair of nature programs at Chadron State Park this weekend. Amanda Filipi, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission outdoor education specialist, will lead a birding program at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 28. Following at 10:30 a.m., she will teach participants to throw a tomahawk “like a regular Daniel Boone.” Those participating in the birding program will learn about species’ adaptations, extensive migrations and unique field marks. They will also enjoy a short hike ... Read More »