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.

Dedication Set for New, Historic Fort Robinson Building

The reconstruction of the 1891 Officers Quarters at Fort Robinson State park is nearing completion. A dedication for the new building, which will add to Fort Robinson's lodging attractions, will be May 2. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The new lodging facility blends the best of old and new. Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford is gearing up to celebrate its reconstruction of an 1891 Officers Quarters, a duplex-style lodge that combines historical features with modern amenities. The public grand opening and dedication will be Saturday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m. MDT near the new building. The short ceremony will be followed by tours of the building. “We are certainly proud to be adding this beautiful, modern facility ... Read More »

Watts Lake Renovated to Improve Fishery

Watts Lake, foreground, has been renovated to improve the fishery. (NEBRASKAland/Eric Fowler)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission completed a fish renovation at Watts Lake on the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge on March 27 to address an unbalanced fish population triggered by drought conditions in 2012. Fisheries biologist Zac Brashears of Valentine said lower water levels that year caused a partial winterkill in Watts and prompted the problems with the fishery. The primary goal of the renovation was to remove unwanted fish species such as ... Read More »

Boating Safety Courses Set Throughout Northwest

Lake visitors enjoy boating at Bridgeport State Recreation Area. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

Locations from Valentine to Scottsbluff are included in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s statewide effort to offer boating safety courses. The courses are offered by choice of home-study or as a six-hour classroom session. Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator, including drivers of personal watercraft, born after Dec. 31, 1985, to complete one of the two types of boating safety courses and be in possession of a course certificate. Operators must be 14 years old to drive motorboats and personal ... Read More »

Fishing Instructors to be Trained in Gering

Fishing rods stand ready for use at a youth fishing clinic in Bridgeport. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will certify youth fishing instructors Sunday, April 26, at Gering from 2-5 p.m. The free workshop will be at Platte Valley Motor Bank, 1850 10th Street. Event organizers say the training provides the skills and necessary materials to encourage the next generation of anglers. Attendees will receive training and tools to conduct fishing clinics. Once certified, the volunteers will have access to Game and Parks’ loaner fishing equipment and educational materials for events, as ... Read More »

Wildcat Weekends Series Puts Focus on the Outdoors

Many fun and educational nature activities are scheduled at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering in the coming months. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

The Wildcat Hills Nature Center near Gering is encouraging outdoor lovers to mark their calendars for its Wildcat Weekends series of events scheduled each month from May through December. The series will kick off Saturday, May 16, with Wildcat Hills Wildlands Day, highlighted by an 8k fun run, children’s crafts and hikes to observe birds, wildflowers and bighorn sheep. Because the event coincides with Free Fishing and Park Entry Day, no Nebraska State Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles ... Read More »

Panhandle Passages: Down Home Frog

A Boreal chorus frog peers from the shallows of Red Willow State Recreation Area. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

Every photo that makes it to print in NEBRASKAland Magazine means a lot to me. Few things make a person look fondly upon a time and a place as does a good photo and it’s especially rewarding to see one in print. One particular photo — that of a Boreal chorus frog on pages 46-47 of the April issue — has special meaning to me. Frogs are great and I love the way this species fills the air with song ... Read More »

Moose Seen in Panhandle

Moose in Morrill County

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials are reporting that a moose has been spotted numerous times by residents in the North Platte River Valley in the Panhandle. The confirmed sightings suggest that the moose has been in the region for several weeks and was last reported in Morrill County. Moose are not common in Nebraska, but are occasionally spotted in the western part of the state. Wildlife biologists expect that the moose wandered into the state from Wyoming. Officials are ... Read More »

Water Flowing to Chadron State Park Pond

The Chadron State Park pond begins to fill with water, signifying that the renovation project is nearing completion. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

Water has begun flowing into the Chadron State Park pond, signifying that the renovation of the two-acre lagoon is nearing completion. Workers from Fuller Construction and park employees began diverting water Thursday morning from nearby Chadron Creek. The pond is expected to fill within 15-20 days, making it ready for fishing and paddle-boating during the summer tourism season. The pond has been empty for the construction project since it was drained in fall 2013. While empty, workers repaired its dilapidated ... Read More »

Panhandle Passages: How Great Thou Waterfowl Art

Junior Duck Stamp Best of Show

You can’t beat a good waterfowl picture. My wings are definitely clipped, so to speak, when it comes to drawing or painting a picture of a bird, but beautiful photos of waterfowl within the pages of NEBRASKAland and other magazines helped instill my passion for wildlife photography. I’m not alone in my fondness for imagery of ducks and geese. One only has to travel as far as the local Ducks Unlimited banquet to notice that the pretty waterfowl art from ... Read More »

Pine Ridge Mule Deer Counted

Mule deer

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has completed the second year of an annual mule deer survey in portions of the Pine Ridge management unit in northwestern Nebraska. On Feb. 6-9, Commission employees used a contracted helicopter to repeat the 2014 mule deer survey. Commission staff counted 758 deer in 429 square miles of the unit compared to 862 in the same areas in 2014. The data will be compared to mule deer numbers in other areas of the state ... Read More »