AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Salazar Spotlights Nebraska's Conservation of Sandhill Cranes, Waterfowl at Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District

Applauds Partnerships in Conservation and Restoration Projects

Last edited 09/29/2021

GIBBON, NE -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today toured portions of the Rainwater Basin and the Platte River that serve as vital stopover areas for millions of migrating birds, including a wet meadow restoration project at Rowe Sanctuary that will provide habitat for the sandhill crane and other wildlife.

Secretary Salazar highlighted the important contributions of partners such as Ducks Unlimited, Nebraska Game and Parks, and Tri-Basin Natural Resources District in conserving and restoring habitat in the region.

“The kind of conservation partnership that we have in Nebraska is the heart and soul of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative,” Salazar said. “The Rainwater Basin Wetland Management District is a model for conservation in the 21st century, built from the ground up and with a view toward healthy lands, waters, wildlife and economies.”

Salazar toured the Funk and Clark Waterfowl Production Areas, two of 60 prominent wetland areas within the Rainwater Basin that are owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Secretary ended the trip with a visit to the restoration project on Rowe Sanctuary and viewing the evening return of sandhill cranes to the Platte River. The restored area is expected to benefit the endangered whooping crane which migrates through the same region in mid to late April.

South central Nebraska remains a traditional stopover for migratory birds. Each spring the Big Bend Reach of the Platte River and the Rainwater Basin provide food and rest for millions of ducks, geese, cranes, and shorebirds making their northward journey. Their arrival begins with the first signs of melting snow and extends into early May.

The most famous of all the migrations is the month-long stay of sandhill cranes. Approximately 500,000 cranes roost and feed along the Platte River, while nearly 10 million waterfowl rest and feed in wetlands scattered throughout the Rainwater Basin. The Big Bend Reach extends from Overton to Chapman Nebraska. The Rainwater Basin encompasses about 6200 square miles immediately south of the Big Bend Reach.

Agricultural and road development during the past century has caused alterations to these migration habitats, making it critical for the Fish and Wildlife Service and its conservation partners to work together to conserve this region for the great migration.

More information about the Service's work on the Platte River and within the Rainwater Basin is available at: and


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