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.

Boy Scouts, Volunteers Planting Trees at Chadron State Park

Tree planters at Fort Robinson State Park

About 250 Boy Scouts of the Longs Peak Council will gather at Chadron State Park this weekend to plant trees in areas burned by the 2012 wildfire that entered the popular northwestern Nebraska tourism attraction and burned much of its ponderosa pine forest and surrounding areas. The public is invited to assist in the planting of 3,000 trees in the park Saturday morning. Participants will begin planting trees after an education session at 8 a.m. and are expected to finish ... Read More »

New Cowboy Trail Section Celebrated in Rushville

Cowboy Trail

Kris Ferguson had a lot to celebrate Saturday. It was her birthday, but that milestone came secondary to the party for one of her greatest labors of love. Ferguson is the Gordon cyclist who turned tragedy to triumph after being struck by a motor vehicle while riding along Nebraska Highway 27 south of the Sheridan County city. While recuperating from the 2011 accident, which required her to be flown to Scottsbluff for emergency care, she launched an effort to develop ... Read More »

Wildcat Hills Nature Center Closing for Construction

Wildcat Hills Construction

The Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering is closing for the season today (Friday, Sept. 18) as construction begins on a large addition to the center. Some services will be moved to a different location. Although the center’s displays and merchandise will be put in storage during the construction, permits for hunting, fishing and park entry will be sold at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area’s shop two miles south along Nebraska Highway 71. The park, including its campground, ... Read More »

Don’t be Confused by Moose when Hunting


With moose being reported throughout the Panhandle in recent months, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is urging hunters this fall to be certain of their target before taking a shot. Moose can be similar in appearance to other big game animals. Elk hunters especially will want to study game closely before firing a shot or releasing an arrow. Since this spring, moose have occasionally been reported at locations from the western edge of the Panhandle eastward to Bridgeport and ... Read More »

Crossing the Goal Line with Online Hunter Education

With hunter education behind him, Sawyer Haag is all smiles after a successful dove hunt. He graduated from the online hunter education course in recent weeks.

Anyone who has kids knows things can get a little hectic in the fall. My son Sawyer was eligible for hunter education last year, but the limited offerings in the Chadron area didn’t fit into his schedule. Right or wrong, his obligation to his youth football team took precedence to devoting two Saturdays to hunter education – yes, at least in our Nebraska family, the football schedule is on a short list of things that can trump hunting and fishing. ... Read More »

Wildcat Hills Nature Center Expansion Begins

Architectural drawing of expansion. (Courtesy of Studio 120 Architecture)

One of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s premier facilities in the Panhandle is about to become even more impressive. Construction has officially begun on an addition to the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering. The $2.375 million expansion will add 8,720 square feet to the building, which serves as headquarters for the Commission’s educational programs in the region and the 700-acre Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. The new construction will more than double the size of the existing ... Read More »

Public Bird Banding Days Set at Chadron State Park, Wildcat Hills

A female orchard oriole is held by Alexandra Mayes, education coordinator for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, while getting its photo taken by an attendee of last year's public bird banding demonstrations at Chadron State Park. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The public is invited to get up-close and personal with bird populations at two parks in the Nebraska Panhandle this weekend and next. Bird banding stations have been set up at Chadron State Park near Chadron and Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering. Attendees of special public banding days will watch and learn as biologists retrieve birds from nets, collect data, and fit each with a lightweight metal leg band before releasing it back to the wild. The first ... Read More »

Ride the Ridge Coming to Fort Robinson State Park

Riders cross Soldier Creek at Fort Robinson State Park during last year's Ride the Ridge. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

One of northwestern Nebraska’s most popular annual trail rides will occur at Fort Robinson State Park this weekend, drawing riders and their horses from near and far. The annual Ride the Ridge will be Saturday, June 20, highlighting the beautiful scenery and terrain of the Pine Ridge near Crawford. Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Soldier Creek Road, with the first ride of the day following at 9 o’clock. A second ride is offered at 1 p.m., each consisting of ... Read More »

Bowring Ranch Celebrating Sod House Sunday


The Bowring Ranch State Historical Park near Merriman is inviting the public to step back in time this Father’s Day, June 21, by attending its annual Sod House Sunday event. Numerous activities will depict Sandhills ranch life of yesteryear, including praise music and worship from 10 a.m. to noon. Team penning will begin at 1 p.m., along with children’s activities and an open house for the Bowring ranch home and sod house. The visitor center will be open from 8 ... Read More »

Nebraska’s First State Park Celebrating 94 Years

Free paddleboat rides on the newly renovated pond will be a highlight of Chadron State Park's anniversary celebration this weekend. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

Chadron State Park will celebrate its distinction as Nebraska’s first park and its 94th anniversary Saturday, June 13, with a wide variety of activities for all ages. All of the park’s regular offerings will be in full swing, in addition to many special activities at the Trading Post and other points. There’s plenty to entertain the children at the annual celebration, including free paddleboat rides at the newly renovated pond from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Hippity Hop Horse ... Read More »