Rivers and Wetlands

CranesPlatteBDuaneHovorkaNebraska’s rivers – the Platte, Missouri, Republican, Niobrara, Loup, Big and Little Blue, Elkhorn, Nemaha and others – have provided habitat for people and wildlife for thousands of years.

Today, our rivers are beset by huge challenges.

Intensive development in Nebraska and upstream has depleted river flows, all but dried up tributaries like Frenchman Creek and Pumpkin Creek and threatened remaining flows in many of our rivers. Some 70% of the Central Platte’s historic flows is now captured and used upstream. Further development along the Niobrara River threatens flows in a river that is canoed by over 30,000 people every year.

About one-third of Nebraska’s historic wetlands have been drained, filled or destroyed. Rivers and creeks have been straightened and channelized, especially in eastern Nebraska, and turned into concrete causeways in urban areas.

Pollution from factories and cities, from farm fields and livestock operations, from electric power plants and residential septic systems mean nearly eWATERQUALITYpollutionHovorkavery major Nebraska river fails to meet basic federal and state water quality standards.    

Nebraska Wildlife Federation is working to protect Nebraska’s rivers, streams, and wetlands, and to restore our state’s aquatic habitat. That includes:

The Platte River, where we helped create and now help oversee the Platte River Recovery Program, a 3-state, 13-year, basin-wide species conservation effort.

The Niobrara River, where 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.

The Missouri River, where we help represent wildlife groups on the Corps of Engineers Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee.

The State Legislature, where we are working to increase state funding for projects that will protect and restore river flows and wetlands, and to boost funding for watershed cleanup plans.