KEARNEY, NE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will release water from their Environmental Account (EA) to benefit the endangered whooping cranes. Whooping cranes use the Platte River in Nebraska, part of the Central Flyway, as a stopover site during their winter migration south to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas.
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 plover and pallid sturgeon.
The Service will begin releasing water this week and aims to maintain a flow of 2,300 cubic feet per second at Grand Island, Nebraska. Presently, the daily mean flow at Grand Island is nearly 2,200 cfs. This release will provide and maintain adequate roosting and feeding habitat for whooping cranes on the Platte River, and is expected to continue through early to mid-November when the whooping cranes leave the region.
The PRRIP has liability insurance in place in the event of any associated damages related to the flow release. The PRRIP is committed to restoration of the habitat for the endangered species in the Central Platte River, while at the same time protecting human health and safety and preventing damage to associated land along the river.