FIGURE 1-1 South channel of central Platte River at Rowe Sanctuary near Kearney. Channel is periodically dry, as in this view. Riparian vegetation includes cottonwood-dominated forests and more open areas. Source: Photograph by W.L. Graf, August 2003.

antillarum athalassos). The broad shallow waters of the Platte near its confluence with the Missouri River constitute an important habitat for at least one endangered species of fish: the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus).

The infrastructure investments that made irrigated agriculture and urban water supply possible in the Platte River Basin have substantially altered the hydrologic regime of the Platte River. During the twentieth century in the Platte River Basin, construction of storage reservoirs and diversion dams and installation of wells to tap groundwater supported the economic vitality of the region. The structures continue to provide flood reduction, water supply, hydroelectricity, and recreational benefits. By controlling and diverting water flows, however, the dams altered the stream flows, and that caused widespread environmental changes. A major habitat change involved the expansion of woodland and the narrowing of river channels. Whooping cranes, piping plovers, and interior least terns, whose populations were already declining because of other factors, prefer more sparsely vegetated, open, sandy areas near shallow water.



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