Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Abstract: The Platte River and its tributaries drain over 86,000 square miles in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Many habitats for wildlife, including montane pine forest, native grasslands, and eastern deciduous forest, exist in the Platte River ecosystem. The region is steeped in the history of the settlement of the West. The Mormon and Oregon trails, as well as the railroads played important roles in the early settlement of the region. Enactment of several federal laws to facilitate settlement of the region in the 1880s along with the opening of several railroad lines encouraged residents of the eastern United States to move to the region. Along with human settlement came changes in the character of the ecosystem. Wetlands were drained to accommodate intensified agricultural development. A vast acreage of tall grass prairie was converted to monotypic crop fields. Gravity and center-pivot irrigation systems accelerated the transformation of the native grassland communities. Intensified water withdrawal from the river was responsible for changing the character of riverine habitats. Ecological changes benefitted some organisms at the expense of others. Enactment of several federal and state laws to conserve fish, wildlife, and ecosystems now plays a role to protect remaining Platte River system biodiversity. In this paper, we present an inventory of some of the ecosystem resources and describe some of the impacts to habitats and species that have occurred in the face of human development. We discuss a series of management alternatives that should be considered to maintain the integrity of the remaining biodiversity.
This resource is based on the following source:
Sidle, John G. and Craig A. Faanes. Platte River ecosystem resources and management, with emphasis on the Big Bend reach in Nebraska. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Island, Nebraska.
This resource should be cited as:
Sidle, John G. and Craig A. Faanes. Platte River ecosystem resources and management, with emphasis on the Big Bend reach in Nebraska. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Island, Nebraska. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/habitat/plrivmgt/index.htm (Version 16JUL97)