Nebraska's rivers -- the Platte,
Republican, Niobrara, Loup, Big Blue and Little Blue, Elkhorn, Nemaha, and
others -- are perhaps our state's greatest, and most
underappreciated, natural asset. For thousands of years, these great
rivers provided habitat for great
of migrating ducks, geese, and cranes, watered wandering bison, deer, and
elk, flooded productive wetlands and wet meadows, and maintained the great
Today, Nebraska's rivers are beset by
Over-development has depleted river flows,
drying up tributaries like Pumpkin Creek
(below) and Frenchman Creek in western Nebraska. Some 70% of the Central
Platte's historic flow (left) is now captured and used upstream by 15 major dams
that can hold about five year's worth of
the Platte's current flow.
The Niobrara River faces a rash of new water
development that threatens a river that is canoed by some 30,000 people per
year. Developers want to build tracts of houses and cabins on the river
that would destroy the scenic vistas that make it a National Scenic River.
In 2006, after a decade of negotiations, a new
Platte River Recovery Program, was approved that provides real hope for the
future of the Platte. Nebraska Wildlife Federation was at the table helping
negotiate this 13-year, $187 million restoration program to restore
and protect Platte River flows and habitat.
● Nebraska Wildlife Federation is working to
protect Nebraska's rivers and streams, and to restore our state's aquatic
habitat. We are working to make sure the Nebraska Legislature provides
funding to meet Nebraska's obligations under the Platte River Recovery
● We are supporting Nebraska Game & Parks
Commission efforts to obtain an in-stream flow water right that would
protect remaining Niobrara River flows from future water development. We
have asked the Legislature to streamline instream flow application laws.
● Nebraska Wildlife Federation is
represented on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee by Dr.
Marian Maas, Federation Board Member and Past President. We are working to
increase the priority given to fish, wildlife and recreation in the
management of the Missouri River.
Nearly every major river in Nebraska is
polluted, by some combination of pesticides, nutrients, bacteria,
and sediment, from farm fields, livestock operations, factories, power
and municipal wastewater and stormwater systems. Nebraska's legislature has
devoted little attention or funding towards surface water quality, and the
result is little progress in making Nebraska rivers fishable and swimmable
● Nebraska Wildlife Federation is working
to educate the public about our polluted streams,
and we support state funding to put in place watershed cleanup plans that
will make our rivers and lakes swimmable and fishable once again.
Farm Conservation Programs
Over 95% of Nebraska's land base is privately
owned farms and ranches -- split roughly evenly between cropland and ranch
land. We cannot have healthy fish and
wildlife populations in Nebraska without addressing wildlife on farms and ranches. The federal Farm Bill drives day to day
decisions on most Nebraska farms, and federal farm conservation programs
play a huge role in wildlife conservation on Nebraska farms and ranches.
● The Nebraska Wildlife Federation
is working with National Wildlife Federation to improve Farm Bill conservation programs
in the 2012 Farm Bill.
● We are working with the National
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and other organizations to support more basic
change in the structure of agriculture in Nebraska.
provide advice to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service State
Technical Committee, helping the department implement Farm Bill conservation
programs in ways that benefit fish and wildlife.
for more information on the Federation's work in farm policy.
The prestigious National Academy of Sciences
in June, 2009, “the need for urgent action to address climate change
is now indisputable.” A conservative United States Supreme Court said in
2007, “the harms associated with climate change
are serious and well recognized.” Bush Administration and Obama
Administration environmental officials may agree on little else, but they
agreed on one thing: the science is clear. The climate is changing, and
human activities are an important contributor to this change.
Whether or not you agree with the
overwhelming majority of climate scientists in the U.S. and
abroad who say climate change is real and humans are a significant cause,
something else should be clear: we are wasting oil, gas and coal that our
children and grandchildren will need. In the process, we are spewing air
pollution that is causing death and disease from asthma, lung disease and
Americans spend one billion dollars a day to buy foreign oil from countries
including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. To support this addiction to oil, America’s sons
and daughters are fighting, and some are dying, in the Middle East. For
America to create jobs that are sustainable and prosperity that is lasting,
we must kick our addiction to foreign oil and reduce our dependence on
polluting fossil fuels here at home.
● The National Wildlife Federation is a
leader in the fight to protect fish, wildlife, and people from
the dangers of climate change. Nebraska Wildlife Federation supports NWF's
efforts to pass comprehensive legislation in the US, and strong treaties
internationally, that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to acceptable
levels and help wildlife and natural systems adapt to climate change.
Wildlife Federation has long supported solar, wind, and other renewable
energy sources, and supports legislation that would require Nebraska
utilities to aggressively pursue energy conservation and renewable energy
instead of fossil fuel energy that makes climate change worse.
State and Local Issues
Nebraska's non-partisan, unicameral Legislature
presents unique challenges and opportunities to influence state legislation.
Every bill introduced is required to have a public hearing, and must go
through three stages of debate before final passage. The open process of
legislative action, along with the lack of closed-door conference committees
that characterize bicameral legislatures, makes the Nebraska legislature
accessible to the public.
Critical decisions made in the state
legislature that impact Nebraska fish and wildlife include water policy,
funding for wildlife and other state environmental programs, game & fish
policy, and environmental regulation of water and air quality. When the
Legislature is not in session, legislative committees hold interim study
hearings to explore solutions to problems.
● The Federation presents information at
public hearings, contacts legislators and the Governor on key wildlife
issues, cooperates with conservation and environmental other organizations,
and alerts our members when votes on key issues are pending.