Research and Economic Development, Office of


Date of this Version



Published in: Sustainability in a Time of Climate Change: Developing an Intensive Research Framework for the Platte River Basin and the High Plains. Proceedings from the 2008 Climate Change Workshop, May 19-22. Hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln & U.S. Geological Survey. Copyright © 2009 The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska.


The metropolitan areas of Denver and Omaha sit like bookends for the Platte River Basin and High Plains region. In the 500 miles between these metropolitan areas lies a vast, almost completely rural region where farming and ranching are the mainstays of the economy and the culture. Agriculture is not just the primary industry; it is a way of life. This way of life is very vulnerable to changes in climate. The perspectives of the people who work and live in this region are crucial to informing research on climate change. They are on the frontlines of climate change, as climate impacts and shapes every facet of their lives. In turn, because agriculture is in the business of sequestering and recycling carbon, the decisions and choices agricultural producers make in managing the natural resources in their care can have an impact on mitigating climate change. Most see themselves as stewards of the land and are motivated to pass their land on to the next generation in the best possible condition. But they also are driven by economics – they can’t pass on the land if they can’t hold on to it – and that means paying the mortgage every year. Research solutions and recommendations need to work economically for farmers and ranchers if they are expected to adopt them.