The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP) is a collaborative endeavor that addresses threatened and endangered species issues. This multiple state effort began in 1997, when the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska joined with the Secretary of Interior to sign the “Cooperative Agreement for Platte River Research and Other Efforts Relating to Endangered Species Habitat along the Central Platte River, Nebraska”, as they understood this approach would prevent years of courtroom battles over limited water supplies and individual river species.
Since 1974, Audubon’s efforts at Rowe Sanctuary, raising awareness of the water issues on the Platte River in regards to Whooping Cranes and Sandhill Cranes, were instrumental in creating the impetus to begin this basin wide plan for the river. Currently 70% of the water is already diverted and 90% of the open channel habitat for these birds is gone.
PRRIP works to accommodate the habitat needs of target species by increasing stream flows in the central Platte River during relevant time periods. The program also enhances, restores and protects habitat, and does so in a manner to accommodate new water-related activities.
The Platte River is a highly regulated system, and a significant portion of the regulation is based on this program which ensures there is migratory habitat available in Nebraska for three threatened and endangered birds: the Interior Least Tern, Piping Plover and the Whooping Crane.
PRRIP needs to be extended to allow conservation organizations and all water users to continue Platte River restoration for these species. Audubon Nebraska worked with Audubon Rockies, our national staff and our chapters to write letters thanking and encouraging our representatives to support PRRIP. We thanked Senator Fischer for her support and encouraged Senator Sasse to support this important legislation (S. 990). We also thanked Nebraska Representative Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith for cosponsoring (H.R. 3237).