05/11 - Reviving the Platte basin ecosystem symposium this June

By: Steve Ress

It was temporarily shelved, but never forgotten.

After a 15-year hiatus, the Crane Trust and Nebraska Water Center are reconvening the Platte River Basin Ecosystem Symposium this June.

“In celebrating 40 years of operating on the Platte River, the Crane Trust wanted to reconvene the symposium,” said the Trust’s lead biologist Andy Caven.

“Our goal is to provide a snapshot of ongoing research in the central Platte River valley, a broad assessment of the ecosystem’s current conditions and to further clarify future conservation and research priorities,” he said.

With those goals in mind, symposium abstracts are being solicited through April 15th for inclusion in the June 5 and 6 symposium’s agenda.

“We are seeking applied science presentations from practitioners, academics, graduate students and others on all topics related to conservation efforts in the Central Platte River Valley and adjacent ecosystems.

“We welcome abstract submissions regarding fish and wildlife conservation and ecology, hydrology, water quality, vegetation ecology, wet meadows, prairie and wetland restoration, exotic species control and management, songbird, shorebird, and crane ecology, endangered species topics, habitat mapping and modeling, insect conservation, natural history, herpetology, and all other topics relevant to the conservation of the Central Platte River Valley and adjacent ecosystems.”

Details of the request for presentation proposals can be found online at watercenter.unl.edu.

A draft schedule of symposium events calls for a bird walk to begin the first day on June 5, followed by a series of 15-minute presentations throughout the morning and afternoon. On June 6, workshops will focus on conservation needs in the central Platte River basin and knowledge gaps in the central Platte River basin, Caven said.

The symposium will close by Noon, June 6.

The Platte River Basin Ecosystem Symposium was originally held yearly then biannually from 1990 to 2003 with funding help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It was coordinated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Platte Watershed Program which has since been inactive.

Its intent was to provide researchers and land stewards an opportunity to stay abreast of ongoing research within the Platte River basin and to develop shared goals for future study and inquiry.

Organizations such as the Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, and Crane Trust have been actively conserving and studying habitat in the central Platte River valley for more than 40 years, cooperating with regional partners such as UNL, the University of Nebraska-Kearney, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Central Platte Natural Resources District and others.

2007 witnessed initiation of a major management milestone in the basin with the beginnings of the Platte River Recovery and Implementation Program, which has focused on studying and improving habitat for federally threatened and endangered species.

In view of that 40-year history of conservation and management in the basin, Caven said the time was right to reconvene the symposium.