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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wet meadows are groundwater-fed wetlands within larger grassland environments. Along the Platte…

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.