The importance of the Platte River watershed cannot be overstated. It is a water source for five million people across three states. It provides vital habitat for wildlife and birds. And it sits at a critical juncture where water shortages, drought, and weather extremes are becoming the norm.
With our balanced, results-focused conservation approach, Audubon is an effective convener and leader of diverse stakeholders working towards the same goal. We catalyze action by restoring habitat, we provide decision-makers with the latest science, and we conduct research to more fully understand the ecosystem and what it needs.
The Platte River Initiative addresses the following challenges: the impact of diminishing snowfall in the Rocky Mountains; three states’ competing water demands on the Platte; and the need to maintain and restore the habitat it creates for birds. Sound Audubon science on the Platte’s water supply under changing conditions will shape and inform projections used to develop this plan. The ultimate goal is to build habitat along the waterways that have historically accommodated high flows and ensure water policy considers and incorporates the impacts of a warmer climate.
This far-reaching initiative demands serious investment. Success will come through the expertise of the people leading it. This initiative must begin with a commitment of resources in people, those whose knowledge is grounded in the sciences relating to wildlife, habitat restoration, and conservation. We seek support to:
- Release areas of sediment build-up within the Platte River channel in order to restore dynamic sediment transport processes
- Train and build capacity for long-term management of invasive vegetation
- Protect communities from flooding by widening bridges and restoring floodplains as buffer zones
- Protect wetlands and sloughs with vegetative buffers and promote no-till farming practices
- Increase berms and buffers between working lands and floodplain
- Convene stakeholders, including conservation organizations, scientists, water users, and managers, to develop solutions and take action
- Work with local stakeholders to develop and adapt science-based water management policies for a sustainable Platte River, such as releasing stored water in a way that moves sediment, adaptable groundwater conservation measures, and allows voluntary transfers of water rights to protect habitat and priority species