Basin Electric’s and Missouri Basin Power Project’s role in forming the Crane Trust

Nebraska-Crane-Trust---Sunset-(15)

A stretch of the winding Platte River in south-central Nebraska serves as a respite for hundreds of thousands of cranes and other migratory birds each spring.

Every year, the trumpeting of more than 600,000 cranes resounds through the Big Bend area of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska.

Many sandhill cranes, and a few endangered whooping cranes, will stay in the area for about a month, putting on weight and meeting mates they will keep for life.

Whooping Cranes wading in shallow water

Among the hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes stopping at the Crane Trust each spring are the endangered whooping crane.

The area is cared for by the dozen-plus staff of the Crane Trust, an organization dedicated to protecting and maintaining critical habitat for whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, and other migratory birds along the Big Bend Region of the Platte River Valley.

In the mid-1970s, Basin Electric and Missouri Basin Power Project (MBPP) participants were planning construction of Laramie River Station, located near Wheatland, Wyoming. To meet the facility’s water needs, MBPP sought to build a dam along the Laramie River, a tributary of the Platte River.

The negotiations resulted in a court-approved settlement that allowed construction of the Grayrocks Dam on the Laramie River, forming the 3,500-acre Grayrocks Reservoir to provide for most of Laramie River Station’s water needs. As part of the settlement, the MBPP contributed $7.5 million toward formation of the Crane Trust in 1978.

The Crane Trust currently protects and maintains about 10,000 acres of land along the Platte River near Wood River, Nebraska, about 400 miles downriver from Grayrocks Reservoir.

The Crane Trust is well-positioned to continue, and expand upon, its tradition of conservation. In 2015, a herd of genetically pure bison were also added to the property after a 150-year absence from the prairie ecosystem.

To learn more about the Crane Trust and how it was formed to protect these cranes and migratory birds read in the Spring 2018 issue of Basin Today: When energy, water, and conservation converge.

The video below, “Forming the Crane Trust: When energy, water, and conservation converge,” contains footage courtesy of Kyle Wullschleger, Bill Wallauer, NET Nebraska, and Torchwerks Studio.

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