Concerns have been building for years over the
four threatened and endangered
species that use the Platte River in Nebraska: the whooping crane, piping plover, interior
least tern, and pallid sturgeon, as well as other wildlife in the Central Platte River in
Nebraska. The habitat has been affected by water and land use activities from agriculture
to municipal users who rely on the river system for irrigation, domestic water, and power
production. In 1997, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt
and the governors of Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming signed a Cooperative
Agreement to jointly develop a basinwide recovery program for these species.
In 2006, after nearly a decade of studying and negotiating strategies and
alternatives, an Agreement was signed to initiate the first 13-year increment
of a Platte River Recovery Implementation
The Water Resources Division provides hydrology
support to the Platte River
Recovery Implementation Program, whose participants include the States of Nebraska, Wyoming,
and the U.S. Department of Interior. A long-term
goal of the Program is to improve and maintain the central Platte River
habitats associated with these target species, while ensuring that existing
and certain new water uses within the river basin can proceed in conformance
with the Endangered Species Act under the Program's umbrella.
A Governance Committee with members from the three
states, water users, environmental groups and two federal agencies has been established to
implement the Program. Water, Land and Technical Committees,
along with an "Independent Scientific Advisory Committee", will advise the
Program's Executive Director on technical and scientific matters. U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Service hydrologists participate on the Water Committee, and
will regularly review water-related Program reports and products in light of
commitments various parties have made under the Program Agreement.
Some potential benefits to be gained by the basin-wide
- More effective endangered species habitat improvements
based on basin-wide strategies, as opposed to piecemeal attempts at species habitat
- Permanent restoration and protection of 29,000 acres of
- Simplification of the ESA review process for individual
water related actions throughout the Basin.
- Development of legal and institutional protections to help
ensure that existing flows and any new water deliveries by a program will reach the
critical habitat areas.
- Implementation of an
adaptive-management strategy to test and evaluate the effectiveness of
Program activities, including changes to riverflows resulting from Program
actions and the consequent effects on fish and wildlife habitat along the
- Comprehensive basin-wide analysis of opportunities for
water conservation and enhanced water supply.