Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999): 95-113. Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


This paper reviews current endangered species issues associated with the development of the Platte River and the "Cooperative Agreement for Platte River Research and Other Efforts Relating to Endangered Species Habitats." The Platte River is an important economic resource, providing water essential for irrigation in a highly productive, but semiarid, agricultural region. However, the Middle Platte region of south central Nebraska is also recognized as a critical environmental zone for several endangered species. Thus, Platte River water users are subject to the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. In 1994, the Governors of Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming agreed to work cooperatively with the US Department of Interior on resolving economic and environmental issues relating to the Platte River. After three years of negotiations, the three states and the Department signed a Cooperative Agreement that details a 75 million-dollar, IO-to-15 year plan for basinwide recovery efforts. While it is premature to judge the ultimate effectiveness of the Cooperative Agreement, understanding its central features provides important insights into some of the environmental issues critical to the Great Plains.