A young child runs through the vast Nebraska prairie. Her fingers graze the grass gently, curiously. The prairie is her playground, as she dances wildly in Denton. Here, local conservation groups restore native prairie grass through a project called the Haines Branch Prairie Corridor.  The $4.8 million project will connect existing prairie in the Haines Branch tributary […]

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.

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.

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.

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.

Located at the bottleneck of North America’s central flyway, Nebraska’s Platte River faces significant challenges. Key groups like the Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary and federally-mandated Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, along with many other organizations, are working to protect the river and conserve habitat for the endangered whooping crane, least tern, and threatened piping plover through conservation and education.