North American Crane Working Group


Date of this Version


Document Type



Lingle, Gary R. "History and Economic Impact of Crane-Watching in Central Nebraska.", In: Stahlecker D. W., ed. 1992. Proceedings of the Sixth North American Crane Workshop, Oct. 3-5, 1991, Regina, Sask. (Grand Island, NE.: North American Crane Working Group, 1992), 33-37.


Conference co-sponsored by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources Department, and the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, Canadian Council. Proceedings used by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


The first documentation of the Platte and North Platte rivers' importance to sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) dates from the late 1800's. Except for a few ornithologists, it was not until the mid-1970's that crane-watching became popular. During the last 10 years, this interest has become a multi-million dollar tourist industry that attracts people from around the globe who seek to witness this vernal spectacle of half a million cranes. More than half of the former riverine habitat has been abandoned by the cranes, largely because of irrigation and hydropower projects that drain the river and enable forests to grow in the riverbed. In an era of economic impacts with an emphasis on cost-benefit analyses and public-trust considerations, this tourist industry adds a new dimension towards the protection of the remaining habitat for cranes and other waterbirds in Nebraska.