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Chadron, Neb . - The recently purchased Chadron Creek Ranch Wildlife Management Area, 11 miles south of Chadron in the Pine Ridge, is open for public use, according to Gary Schlichtemeier, district wildlife manager at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commissions district office in Alliance.

"The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission approved purchase of the new WMA at their May meeting," Schlichtemeier said, "and weve recently completed our initial boundary marking and access to a parking lot. Grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and federal Wildlife Restoration Program funds will pay for the $1.85 million purchase."

"Chadron Creek Ranch WMA is located in the Pine Ridge escarpment in Dawes County," he added. "The 2,449-acre area is characterized by the interspersion of ponderosa pine, mixed prairie, deciduous canyons, woodlands, and moderately rough topography. The tract is approximately two miles south of Chadron State Park and a good portion of the area borders U. S. Forest Service property. To maintain the native flora and fauna of the tract, the area will be managed as a "natural area" - this ecosystem approach to management will be the guiding principle."

"Wildlife management areas are open to the public for hunting, trapping, and other outdoor recreational uses unless otherwise posted," Schlichtemeier added. "While the boundary fences are marked and a basic parking area is available, we will be completing additional work in the future. We wanted to have the area open to the public by the beginning of the 2003 Nebraska archery deer season on September 15."

Schlichtemeier added that fire danger throughout the Panhandle is very high.

"The taller stands of dried vegetation make it critical that everyone works to prevent the outbreak of wildfire. Avoid parking vehicles where the dried grasses can come in contact with the vehicles exhaust system and catalytic converters and be extremely careful with other fire hazards."

For additional information on the new Chadron Creek Ranch WMA, contact the district office of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, East Highway 2, Box 725 Alliance, NE 69301, (308) 763-2940.




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