Ariana Brocious

A native of the desert southwest, knowledge of the vital role of water came early to Ariana Brocious, who grew up exploring southern Arizona’s scrubby mountains and dry riverbeds. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she started reporting on the environment—and how humans interact with it—in earnest during her years in western Colorado, where she worked at KVNF Public Radio and High Country News magazine. Ariana Brocious led the multimedia storytelling efforts for the Platte Basin Timelapse project, including writing short and long-form reported features and producing radio stories, from July 2014 through February 2016.

Ariana's Work

Sarah Sortum grew up near Taylor, Nebraska, on her family’s cattle ranch in the Sandhills, the descendant of homesteaders. Her family continues to operate on the same property, running their own cattle, custom grazing operations for others, and Calamus Outfitters, a nature-based tourism operation.

Ted LaGrange moved to Nebraska more than 20 years ago from Iowa. As the wetland program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, he works across the state on conservation, restoration, education, outreach and research related to wetlands.

Climate scientists in Nebraska and Colorado are training Native American water managers how to collect and understand local climate data and make better predictions about their water supply.

Nebraska irrigates more farmland than any state in the nation, and a lot of that water is pumped from underground. A new program for sharing Nebraska’s groundwater may help both farmers and endangered species.

Kim Morrow is Executive Director of Nebraska Interfaith Power and Light and currently works as a climate change resource specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Moving to Nebraska has allowed her to follow her passion — facilitating the faith community’s response to climate change.

Chad Gideon farms between Grand Island and Kearney. Recently, he and his family bought property on the Platte River to ensure their continued access for hunting and fishing.

Recreational airboating and “jeeping” — driving down the channel when water is low – are how many Nebraskans enjoy their local rivers. But some riverside residents say they’re concerned by the noise and what they see as disregard for the environment and private property along the river.

This year’s wet spring sent as much water down the Platte River in two months as usually passes through in an average year.

Don Welch is a Nebraska poet and author, recently retired from 50 years of teaching at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He’s lived most of his life with his wife Marcia in central Nebraska, where much of his work has been influenced by the natural world.

Ann Bleed came to Nebraska from New York in 1972. Her views on water were shaped during her more than 20 year tenure with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, holding positions including director and state hydrologist, and by her participation on negotiations for two interstate litigation cases.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is one of several state and federal agencies that has been working for decades to recover the federally threatened greenback cutthroat trout. But a few years ago, new genetic research revealed that they’d been saving the wrong subspecies.

A couple Saturdays ago the PBT team spent the morning watching the sun creep over the snow-covered peak of Mount Lincoln, above Montgomery Reservoir. We were exploring the headwaters of the South Platte River, in some of the farthest west territory of the Platte River Basin, a region of central Colorado called South Park.

In the predawn hours of an early Saturday in April, cars creep quietly along a gravel road south of the Platte River’s main channel. For the last half hour, the dark sky has nibbled away at the edge of the full moon above, the lucky occurrence of a rare lunar eclipse.

The barn is dusty. And cold. It’s winter at The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Platte River Prairies near Alda, Neb. Chris Helzer orients a group of staff and volunteers to the day’s task: mixing seed for grassland restoration.

Few modern species can lay claim to older origins than the sandhill crane. Each spring, 80 percent of the mid-continent population spends a few weeks along the central stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska. But this unprecedented concentration of birds on the Platte represents a challenged ecosystem.

Today we may think nothing of driving over a bridge. One hundred and fifty years ago, it wasn’t so easy. Some of the first bridges across the Platte were made of sod.

Twice a year, the world’s largest remaining wild population of endangered whooping cranes makes the 2,500-mile journey between breeding grounds in Canada’s Northwest Territories and wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast, using the Great Plains as their migratory corridor. Biologist are tracking these rare birds to learn more about their migration.

A community works to conserve wildlife habitat along the central Platte River in Nebraska.

The third day of February dawned normally for Brice Krohn, senior director at the Crane Trust. The conservation group started burning a few tree piles on their property near Alda, Neb., along the central Platte River. But it wasn’t long before he and his staff noticed the water around in the channels around their property rising.

Water loss through porous canals and ditches has always been an issue for irrigators, so districts and farmers alike have lined or sealed the waterways to reduce loss. “We can’t afford to lose a whole lot of water out of the canal,” Busch said, but “sealing a canal is a catch-22 because that water that comes out of them canals does replenish our groundwater system.”

Nebraska’s capital city has a strong economy, a well-respected university and a vibrant downtown. But from a water supply standpoint, Lincoln has always been a little precarious.

The Platte River Basin is expansive and diverse. One of my favorite parts of this geography is Phantom Canyon, a small preserve nestled into the land where the mountains meet the plains, in the Laramie Foothills of northern Colorado.

Follow a snowflake from the Colorado Rockies through Wyoming dams and reservoirs to fields in the Nebraska panhandle.

On a warm, sandy beach near Ashland, Neb., biology intern Lindsay Brown picks up a small mottled egg and holds it to her ear, listening for telltale scratching. Hearing nothing, she places it back into its nest—a small hollowed patch of sand. It’s a hot July afternoon, near the end of the nesting season, and she’s checking least tern and piping plover nests for late bloomers.

With one hand on the wheel, Michael Forsberg uses the other to absent-mindedly thumb through four empty memory cards on the center console. We’re driving up into the Nebraska Sandhills to change out cards at four of our time-lapse camera systems there, a trip he takes every three months or so. Though we’ve converted many […]

They traveled in buckets, passed hand to hand from truck bed to lakeshore, before being carefully upended just above the surface by proud biologists. With each splash, another batch of young greenback cutthroat trout slid into the glassy waters of Zimmerman Lake – back into their native range high in Colorado’s South Platte River Basin.

Exploring the North Platte Irrigation system (including Pathfinder Dam) with cameras in hand, to learn how water is managed between the mountains and the crop fields.