U.S. Fish & Wildlife relase water for Whooping Cranes


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) plans to release water from their Environmental
Account (EA) to benefit the endangered whooping cranes. Whooping cranes use the Platte
River in Nebraska as a stopover site during their migration in the Central Flyway north to
Canada for the summer. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of other migratory birds,
including over half a million sandhill cranes, use the Platte River to roost and feed during the
months of March and April.
Established in 1999, the EA is water stored in Lake McConaughy in western Nebraska and is
managed by the Service to benefit four federally listed threatened or endangered target species
on the Platte River – these species include the whooping crane, interior least tern, piping plov er
and pallid sturgeon.
This year the Service's highest priority water release from the EA is to benefit whooping cranes
during their spring migration. The releases started on Saturday March 29th from Lake McConaughy and releases are planned to continue until May 10th

. EA water should have all
passed Grand Island by about May 24th

. Flows in the Overton to Grand Island reach should be
about 1700 cfs during this period. This flow target is the minimum flow during a dry year
considered necessary to provide and maintain adequate roosting and feeding habitat for
whooping cranes on the Platte River. Flows of this magnitude are not unusual at this time of
year and are well below flood levels.

Source: US Fish & Wildlife

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