Water Center, The


Platte River, Nebraska

Allan Locke, Alberta Department of Sustainable Resource Development
Clair Stalnaker, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/U.S. Geological Survey (retired)
Sandi Zellmer, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Kathleen Williams, Instream Flow Council
Hal Beecher, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Todd Richards, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Cindy Robertson, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Alan Wald, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Andrew Paul, Alberta Department of Sustainable Resource Development
Tom Annear, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Document Type Article

Published (as Chapter 7) in: Integrated Approaches to Riverine Resource Stewardship: Case Studies, Science, Law, People, and Policy. Cheyenne, Wyoming: Instream Flow Council, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Instream Flow Council


Since the 1970s the Platte River has been the subject of science and dialogue regarding providing river flow to support natural values in an environment of burgeoning growth and development in the U.S. West. The Platte is unique to the case studies in this book because migratory birds and their ecological needs provided much of the original impetus for flow advocacy. The Platte also reflects the interplay between state and federal species protection efforts and state water law and agreements, including a recent cooperative interstate effort to address these issues. Over the years, instream flow science and policy have evolved, but the issues and interest remain and continue today. We can learn much from the Platte-use the best science you can get your hands on, invoke legal authorities where available, be realistic and strategic with regard to the political landscape, and keep trying.

This case study focuses on the instream flow water right filings by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. However, since they were filed there has been extensive dialogue and work on the tri-state cooperative effort on Platte River flows and federally listed bird and fish species. As this process is ongoing, an overview of the science and status of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan is provided, but that process is not reviewed in detail.