Where Nebraska was once covered by grassland, most of the land is now used for agriculture. The loss of prairie causes problems for native species and on marginal land it can create issues with erosion and water quality. Conservationists are working to rebuild parts of the prairie in the Midwest.

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.

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.

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.

One of the most prominent and successful photographic pioneers was John Carbutt of Chicago, who made major advances in the materials used to create and develop film. But decades before he did that, Carbutt journeyed to Nebraska and the Platte Valley as the official photographer for an amazingly large publicity stunt by the Union Pacific Rail Company as it rushed to complete the transcontinental railroad.

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.

While surface water development led the early history of irrigation in Nebraska, it became common for farmers to tap the wealth of water below ground beginning in the 1930s.