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The Middle Platte Watershed, Nebraska

The 5,000-square-mile middle Platte River Watershed in central Nebraska includes a 165-mile environmentally critical reach of the three-state Platte River Basin. This river segment provides transient and permanent habitats for several migratory and nonmigratory species, including 500,000 Sandhill Cranes and most of the world's endangered Whooping Crane populations.

Virtually all of the watershed is privately owned, with a high percentage of the land dedicated to irrigated corn production. All of the six "large" communities in the watershed are located in the Platte River Valley. They range in population from 4,000 to 40,000, and each is an economic, social, and cultural center for its residents, and for those living in nearby smaller towns and surrounding rural areas. The economic, social, cultural, and environmental future of the middle Platte River Watershed will be shaped by the residents who collectively own the land and, to a lesser degree, by the agencies and organizations that have management responsibility within the area.

Creating a Vision for the Watershed's Future

EPA Region 7's goal during this five-year project was to assist the watershed's "community" with collectively determining its vision for the watershed and developing and implementing a comprehensive, long-range plan for realizing that vision. Toward this end, EPA conducted several requested studies and encouraged coordination among the various watershed groups. Major efforts included:

Project Accomplishments

The community-requested support over the life of this project included various tasks including funding college-aged summer hires, helping to reestablish native vegetation sites and conducting extensive, multi-year, peer-reviewed research. All six of the major research efforts were completed and are available to the public. They include:

Risk Assessment

One major EPA-funded activity in the watershed - an ecological risk assessment of the Platte River floodplain's environmental resources - remains to be completed. Although not directly a part of Region 7's CBEP activities, the assessment will help watershed managers and residents make sound environmental decisions that support the community's watershed vision. The assessment is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2000.

The Middle Platte River Facts

Related Websites

EPA National Center for Environmental Assessment

EPA Region 7 Contact

Kathleen L. Fenton
CARE Program Manager
(913) 551-7874

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