National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES OF THE PLATTE RIVER

Committee on Endangered and Threatened Species in the Platte River Basin

Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology

Water Science and Technology Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This project was supported by Grant 98210-3-G-483 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project.

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International Standard Book Number 0-309-53263-9 (PDF)

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES IN THE PLATTE RIVER BASIN

WILLIAM L. GRAF (Chair),

University of South Carolina, Columbia

JOHN A. BARZEN,

International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI

FRANCESCA CUTHBERT,

University of Minnesota, St. Paul

HOLLY DOREMUS,

University of California, Davis

LISA M. BUTLER HARRINGTON,

Kansas State University, Manhattan

EDWIN E. HERRICKS,

University of Illinois, Urbana

KATHARINE L. JACOBS,

University of Arizona, Tucson

W. CARTER JOHNSON,

South Dakota State University, Brookings

FRANK LUPI,

Michigan State University, East Lansing

DENNIS D. MURPHY,

University of Nevada, Reno

RICHARD N. PALMER,

University of Washington, Seattle

EDWARD J. PETERS,

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

HSIEH W. SHEN,

University of California, Berkeley

JAMES ANTHONY THOMPSON,

Willow Lake Farm, Windom, MN

Staff

SUZANNE VAN DRUNICK, Project Director

LAUREN ALEXANDER, Program Officer

NORMAN GROSSBLATT, Senior Editor

KELLY CLARK, Assistant Editor

MIRSADA KARALIC-LONCAREVIC, Research Associate

BRYAN P. SHIPLEY, Research Associate

LIZA R. HAMILTON, Program Assistant

SAMMY BARDLEY, Library Assistant

Sponsors

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BUREAU OF RECLAMATION FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY

Members

JONATHAN M. SAMET (Chair),

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

RAMON ALVAREZ,

Environmental Defense, Austin, TX

THOMAS BURKE,

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

JUDITH C. CHOW,

Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV

RORY B. CONOLLY,

CIIT Center for Health Research, Research Triangle Park, NC

COSTEL D. DENSON,

University of Delaware, Newark

E. DONALD ELLIOTT,

Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, LLP, Washington, DC

CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD,

Carnegie Institute of Washington, Stanford, CA

WILLIAM H. GLAZE,

Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton

SHERRI W. GOODMAN,

Center for Naval Analyses, Alexandria, VA

JUDITH A. GRAHAM,

American Chemistry Council, Arlington, VA

DANIEL S. GREENBAUM,

Health Effects Institute, Cambridge, MA

ROBERT HUGGETT,

Michigan State University, East Lansing

BARRY L. JOHNSON,

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

JAMES H. JOHNSON,

Howard University, Washington, DC

JUDITH L. MEYER,

University of Georgia, Athens

PATRICK Y. O’BRIEN,

ChevronTexaco Energy Technology Company, Richmond, CA

DOROTHY E. PATTON,

International Life Sciences Institute, Washington, DC

STEWARD T.A. PICKETT,

Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY

JOSEPH V. RODRICKS,

Environ Corp., Arlington, VA

ARMISTEAD G. RUSSELL,

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta

MITCHELL J. SMALL,

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

LISA SPEER,

Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY

KIMBERLY M. THOMPSON,

Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA

G. DAVID TILMAN,

University of Minnesota, St. Paul

CHRIS G. WHIPPLE,

Environ Incorporated, Emeryville, CA

LAUREN A. ZEISE,

California Environmental Protection Agency, Oakland

Senior Staff

JAMES J. REISA, Director

DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Scholar

RAYMOND A. WASSEL, Senior Program Officer for Environmental Sciences and Engineering

KULBIR BAKSHI, Senior Program Officer for Toxicology

ROBERTA M. WEDGE, Senior Program Officer for Risk Analysis

K. JOHN HOLMES, Senior Program Officer

SUSAN N.J. MARTEL, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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SUZANNE VAN DRUNICK, Senior Program Officer

EILEEN N. ABT, Senior Program Officer

ELLEN K. MANTUS, Senior Program Officer

RUTH E. CROSSGROVE, Senior Editor

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WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD

MEMBERS

RICHARD G. LUTHY (Chair),

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

JOAN B. ROSE (Vice Chair),

Michigan State University, East Lansing

RICHELLE M. ALLEN-KING,

University at Buffalo (SUNY), Buffalo, NY

GREGORY B. BAECHER,

University of Maryland, College Park

KENNETH R. BRADBURY,

Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison, WI

JAMES CROOK,

Water Reuse Consultant, Norwell, MA

EFI FOUFOULA-GEORGIOU,

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

PETER GLEICK,

Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, CA

JOHN LETEY, JR.,

University of California, Riverside, CA

CHRISTINE L. MOE,

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

ROBERT PERCIASEPE,

National Audubon Society, Washington, DC

JERALD L. SCHNOOR,

University of Iowa, Iowa City

LEONARD SHABMAN,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

R. RHODES TRUSSELL,

Trussell Technologies, Inc., Pasadena, CA

KARL K. TUREKIAN,

Yale University, New Haven, CT

HAME M. WATT,

Independent Consultant, Washington, DC

JAMES L. WESCOAT, JR.,

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

SENIOR STAFF

STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director

LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Program Officer

JEFFREY W. JACOBS, Senior Program Officer

WILLIAM S. LOGAN, Senior Program Officer

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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OTHER REPORTS OF THE BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY

Air Quality Management in the United States (2004)

Atlantic Salmon in Maine (2004)

Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin (2004)

Cumulative Environmental Effects of Alaska North Slope Oil and Gas Development (2003)

Estimating the Public Health Benefits of Proposed Air Pollution Regulations (2002)

Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practices (2002)

The Airliner Cabin Environment and Health of Passengers and Crew (2002)

Arsenic in Drinking Water: 2001 Update (2001)

Evaluating Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Programs (2001)

Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act (2001)

A Risk-Management Strategy for PCB-Contaminated Sediments (2001)

Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals (4 volumes, 2000-2004)

Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury (2000)

Strengthening Science at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2000)

Scientific Frontiers in Developmental Toxicology and Risk Assessment (2000)

Ecological Indicators for the Nation (2000)

Waste Incineration and Public Health (1999)

Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment (1999)

Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter (4 volumes, 1998-2004)

The National Research Council’s Committee on Toxicology: The First 50 Years (1997)

Carcinogens and Anticarcinogens in the Human Diet (1996)

Upstream: Salmon and Society in the Pacific Northwest (1996)

Science and the Endangered Species Act (1995)

Wetlands: Characteristics and Boundaries (1995)

Biologic Markers (5 volumes, 1989-1995)

Review of EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (3 volumes, 1994-1995)

Science and Judgment in Risk Assessment (1994)

Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children (1993)

Dolphins and the Tuna Industry (1992)

Science and the National Parks (1992)

Human Exposure Assessment for Airborne Pollutants (1991)

Rethinking the Ozone Problem in Urban and Regional Air Pollution (1991)

Decline of the Sea Turtles (1990)

Copies of these reports may be ordered from the National Academies Press

(800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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OTHER REPORTS OF THE WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD

Managing the Columbia River: Instream Flows, Water Withdrawals, and Salmon Survival (2004)

Review of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Upper Mississippi-Illinois Waterway Restructured Feasibility Study: Interim Report (2004)

Review of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap (2004)

A Review of the EPA Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan (2004)

Groundwater Fluxes Across Interfaces (2004)

Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management (2003)

Bioavailability of Contaminants in Soils and Sediments: Processes, Tools, and Applications (2003)

Environmental Cleanup at Navy Facilities: Adaptive Site Management (2003)

Review Procedures for Water Resources Planning (2002)

Privatization of Water Services in the United States: An Assessment of Issues and Experiences (2002)

Opportunities to Improve the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Program (2002)

Predictability and Limits-to-Prediction in Hydrologic Systems (2002)

Estimating Water Use in the United States: A New Paradigm for the National Water-Use Information Program (2002)

Missouri River Ecosystem: Exploring the Prospects for Recovery (2002)

Review of USGCRP Plan for a New Science Initiative on the Global Water Cycle (2002)

Assessing the TMDL Approach to Water Quality Management (2001)

Classifying Drinking Water Contaminants for Regulatory Consideration (2001)

Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-first Century (2001)

Inland Navigation System Planning: The Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway (2001)

Investigating Groundwater Systems on Regional and National Scales (2000)

Risk Analysis and Uncertainty in Flood Damage Reduction Studies (2000)

Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution (2000)

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Natural Attenuation for Groundwater Remediation (2000)

Watershed Management for Potable Water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy (2000)

Copies of these reports may be ordered from the National Academies Press

(800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Acknowledgments

We are appreciative of the generous support provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. We are especially grateful to the outstanding assistance provided by R. Thomas Weimer, U.S. Department of the Interior, and Larry Schulz, Bureau of Reclamation.

Many people assisted the committee and National Research Council by providing data and reports, and assisting with committee hearings and field trips. We are grateful for the information and support provided by the following:

J. David Aiken, University of Nebraska

Steven Anschutz, Fish and Wildlife Service

Jane Austin, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Maryanne Bach, Bureau of Reclamation

Edward Bartell, Water for Life Foundation

John Bartholow, U.S. Geological Survey

Curtis A. Brown, Bureau of Reclamation

Rick Brown, Colorado Water Conservation Board

Mark Butler, Fish and Wildlife Service

David Carlson, Fish and Wildlife Service

Robert Cox, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Mark Czaplewski, Central Platte Natural Resources District

Betsy Didrickson, International Crane Foundation

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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John Dinan, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Kenny Dinan, Fish and Wildlife Service

Jeffrey L. Drahota, Fish and Wildlife Service

Sara Gavney-Moore, International Crane Foundation

James Harris, International Crane Foundation

Mathew Hayes, International Crane Foundation

Lynn Holt, Bureau of Reclamation

James Jenniges, Nebraska Public Power District

J. Michael Jess, University of Nebraska

Wallace Jobman, Fish and Wildlife Service

Douglas H. Johnson, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Kenneth Jones, Dyersburg State Community College

John W. Keys III, Bureau of Reclamation

Gary Krapu, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Steven Krentz, Fish and Wildlife Service

Kammie L. Kruse, Fish and Wildlife Service

Frank Kwapnioski, Nebraska Public Power District

Anne Lacy, International Crane Foundation

Robert C. Lacy, Chicago Zoological Society/IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group

Brent Lathrop, The Nature Conservancy

John H. Lawson, Bureau of Reclamation

Gary L. Lewis, Parsons

Gary Lingle, University of Nebraska

Steven Lydick, Fish and Wildlife Service

Jeremiah L. Maher, Kleinschmidts Associates

Robert McCue, Fish and Wildlife Service

Ted Melis, U.S. Geological Survey

Ralph O. Morgenweck, Fish and Wildlife Service

Peter J. Murphy, Bureau of Reclamation

James E. Parham, University of Nebraska

Thomas R. Payne, Thomas R. Payne & Associates

Mark M. Peyton, Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District

Timothy J. Randle, Bureau of Reclamation

William E. Rinne, Bureau of Reclamation

Jeff Runge, Fish and Wildlife Service

John J. Shadle, Nebraska Public Power District

David E. Sharp, Fish and Wildlife Service

Hal Simpson, Colorado State Engineer

Tammy S. Snyder, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Thomas Stehn, Fish and Wildlife Service

Dale Strickland, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc.

Raymond J. Supalla, University of Nebraska

Martha Tacha, Fish and Wildlife Service

Paul Tebbel, National Audubon Society

Sharon Whitmore, Fish and Wildlife Service

Erika Wilson, Fish and Wildlife Service

Duane Woodward, Central Platte Natural Resources District

Margot Zallen, U.S. Department of the Interior

The committee’s work also benefited from written and oral testimony submitted by the public, whose participation is much appreciated.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Review Participants

This report has been reviewed in draft form by people chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee and the National Research Council thank the following for their review of this report:

Jacob Bendix, Syracuse University

Leo M. Eisel, Brown and Caldwell

Paul J. Goossen, Canadian Wildlife Service

Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy

James C. Lewis, (Retired) Fish and Wildlife Biologist

Richard Marston, Oklahoma State University

Steven A. Nesbitt, Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission

Gordon Orians, University of Washington

Bruce Rhoads, University of Illinois

J.B. Ruhl, Florida State University

Ernest T. Smerdon, University of Arizona

Vince Travnichek, Missouri Department of Conservation

Peter Wilcock, The Johns Hopkins University

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Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Stanley V. Gregory, Oregon State University, and Frank H. Stillinger, Princeton University. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the committee and the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Cover Art

Mouth of the Platte River, 1833, watercolor and pencil on paper, 10 5/8 × 16 5/8, Karl Bodmer.

The image on the cover of this book is one of the earliest accurate depictions of the Platte River. The view, constructed from direct observation on May 3, 1833, is from the channel of the Missouri River looking westward to the two channels separated by an island that formed the mouth of the Platte River. The artist was Karl Bodmer, a Swiss view painter and portrait artist born in Zurich in 1809. By the time Prince Maxmillian of Wied-Neuwied began organizing an expedition to explore the American West in 1832, he was already aware of the talents of the young Swiss artist, and he invited him to join a trip to the then little known plains of North America to collect natural specimens and artifacts of Native American cultures. Also in 1832, the American artist George Catlin ascended the Missouri, but Bodmer’s superior work reached the public first.

In the spring of 1833, Maxmillian—along with his hunting companion and servant, David Dreidoppel, and Bodmer—began a 2-year journey up the Missouri River, examining the landscapes and cultures along the way. The three explorers traveled by keelboat and the Yellow Stone, a steamboat operated by the American Fur Company to supply its far-flung trading empire and the first steamboat to ply the upper Missouri. Eventually, they reached Fort McKenzie, near the present day Great Falls, Montana, before turning downstream for the return. Maxmillian and Bodmer wintered at Fort Clark, a company trading post associated with the Mandan villages near what is now Bismarck, North Dakota. In 1834 they continued downstream to St. Louis aboard the Yellow Stone on its return trip. They had

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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traveled to the far reaches of the upper Missouri, collecting a treasure-trove of natural specimens and scores of Bodmer’s paintings depicting a changing landscape and a vanishing people. They also collected two black bears that hibernated through the winter. Unfortunately, much of the specimen collection was lost after being transferred to another steamboat, the Assiniboine, which promptly sank. The most important collections survived the trip, however, as did all of Bodmer’s works. In the summer of 1834, the three explorers and their specimens and paintings (as well as the two bears) departed for Europe, never to return to North America.

Bodmer’s astonishing paintings educated a generation of Europeans about the American plains. In 1836 he exhibited most of his works, five years before George Catlin’s work reached Europe and a year before Catlin’s work appeared in public in the United States. Bodmer’s work is meticulous and was executed with great skill. Those parts of the Missouri River landscape that remain unchanged from his day are still exactly recognizable in his paintings, and his renditions of Native Americans and their artifacts are confirmable through comparison with the few remaining items in collections. His river scenes provide insights to river geomorphology and ecology from a period that predated photographs of the region by more than two decades.

After the Missouri River excursion, Bodmer never again traveled widely. He painted mostly woodland scenes from Barbizon, France, and created illustrations for books and magazines. When he died in 1893, his estate sale dispersed much of his work, but the Joslyn Art Museum of Omaha, Nebraska, has recollected almost all of his paintings, along with Maxmillian’s journals. The University of Nebraska has published them in the volume Karl Bodmer’s America.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10978.
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Preface

The Platte River of central Nebraska has undergone great transformations during the last two centuries. The installation of water-control infrastructures and influences of climatic change have altered the river’s biophysical characteristics, and cultural perceptions of the river as a resource have undergone dramatic changes. As a nation, we have viewed the river as a pioneer trail, as a commodity, and finally as an ecosystem. American Indians and early European settlers saw the river as part of a primary transportation route that eventually became the Oregon Trail, one of several connective threads that bound an expanding nation together. When agricultural development transformed the Nebraska landscape, the river was viewed as a conduit for the economically and legally defined commodity of water. More recently, the Platte River has come to be perceived as an ecosystem, not only supplying water for human use but also providing important habitat for many plant and animal species that are part of our natural heritage.

The Platte River ecosystem is enormously complex from a resource perspective. The physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the river are complicated because the river flows west to east through a transition zone from nearly arid to more humid conditions that typify the Great Plains in the mid-section of the North American continent. The river is part of a vast system of dams, diversions, and canals that distribute water across the landscape and that are connected to the groundwater system of the region. The river crosses the Central Flyway, a primary north-south corridor for migratory birds, and the river’s riparian zones provide valuable habitat for these and a variety of other birds. The shallow waters of the river interact with a complex series of islands and bars to create unique habitats for birds and fish.

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Although many public policies govern the Platte River resources, ranging from legally defined water rights to nationally specified goals for restoration under the Clean Water Act, some of the most pressing issues for river managers on the Platte emerge from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the provisions of the ESA, federal officials have listed three birds—the whooping crane, the piping plover, and the interior least tern—as requiring special protection. They have also listed one fish, the pallid sturgeon. Management of the river is inextricably bound to mandated efforts to restore the populations of those species to viable, self-sustaining sizes. Such efforts inevitably focus on manipulating the water flow in the river, potentially affecting the management and use of that water for other purposes. The problem of reconciling the management of water for species and for other beneficial uses is typical of many rivers, and the Platte is not an unusual case in this respect. Similar debates occur regarding the Rio Grande, Snake, Klamath, Trinity, Truckee, Sacramento, Missouri, and Colorado Rivers.

Reconciliation of apparently competing uses lies in administrative decisions and political and legal processes, but science also plays an important role. The best decisions for public policy are likely to be the best informed, and considerable research is now available to explain biophysical processes associated with the Platte River and its listed species. Decision makers for the Platte River, particularly those participating in a cooperative agreement among state and federal agencies responsible for the river, rely on scientific data, information, and interpretations related to the species, their habitat, and the behavior of the river. They asked the National Research Council to determine whether current central and lower Platte habitat conditions affect the likelihood of the listed species’ survival and recovery and to assess the validity of the science supporting the designation of critical habitat, descriptions of habitat-suitability guidelines, and management of river processes.

This report presents the findings of the National Research Council Committee on Threatened and Endangered Species in the Platte River Basin. The committee addressed specific questions about the quality of the science that decision makers have used in administering the Platte River to meet requirements of the ESA for the four listed species. The committee investigated only the scientific aspects of species and river management and sought to evaluate the quality of the research objectively. It adhered to the highest scientific principles in its evaluations.

The committee’s work was greatly aided by the hospitality of many Nebraskans during our two visits to the Platte River. People from Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming provided their views and experiences with the river and its resources in valuable public hearings. Federal, state, and privately supported researchers were generous in sharing with the committee the fruits of their professional labor, and they took valuable time from their own schedules to help us with their testimony and to supply us with necessary

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but elusive documents and data. The committee benefited appreciably from a report, produced at its request by J. Michael Reed, on viability issues for listed bird species in the Platte River Basin.

The committee’s work was immeasurably enhanced by the marvelous support of the National Research Council staff. James Reisa (director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology), David Policansky (scholar of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology), and Stephen Parker (director of the Water Science and Technology Board) created a vision for the committee, and their guidance and wise council were exceptionally important. Suzanne van Drunick (project director and senior program officer) was a central figure in the deliberations and the production of this report, which would not have reached fruition without her good judgment and hard work. Lauren Alexander (program officer) was a helpful participant in committee deliberations. Staff members Bryan Shipley (research associate) and Liza Hamilton (program assistant) were true partners in the study processes, and their skills, from arranging initial public hearings to assembling the final report, were pivotal in our success. Our report benefited from important help from Norman Grossblatt (senior editor), Mirsada Karalic-Loncarevic (research assistant), and Sammy Bardley (library assistant). To all the fine Research Council personnel, a sincere thank you.

This report is not only the product of the efforts of committee members and National Research Council staff members; it reflects the input of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, especially Patrick O’Brien of Chevron Research and Technology who had the responsibility of report oversight; 13 independent external reviewers, listed in the acknowledgments; and Stanley V. Gregory, Oregon State University, and Frank H. Stillinger, Princeton University, who oversaw the external review. Those scientists and professionals provided us with sage reflections and remarkable insights into the complexities of the research underpinning decisions for the Platte River and its listed species.

The committee is under no illusions about the use of this report. We will not end all the controversies surrounding the Platte River Basin and its listed species, but we hope to contribute to resolving some of the questions related to the science of the matter. In this process, committee members share an overriding vision with decision makers and citizens: to have a sustainable river ecosystem that is a social, economic, and environmental bequest for future generations.

William L. Graf, Chair

Committee on Endangered and Threatened Species in the Platte River Basin

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Abbreviations and Acronyms


ANWR:

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

ATV:

all-terrain vehicle

AWP:

Aransas-Wood Buffalo migratory population of whooping cranes


COHYST:

Cooperative Hydrology Study

CNPPID:

Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District


DOI:

U.S. Department of the Interior


EPA:

Environmental Protection Agency

ESA:

Endangered Species Act


FERC:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


GLO:

General Land Office

GPS:

Global Positioning System


HCP:

Habitat Conservation Plan


IFIM:

Instream Flow Incremental Methodology


MCL:

maximum contaminant level

msl:

mean sea level


NAS:

National Academy of Sciences

NESCA:

Nebraska Endangered Species Conservation Act

NGP:

Northern Great Plains

NGPC:

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


PCE:

Primary Constituent Elements

PHABSIM:

Physical Habitat Simulation System

PVA:

population viability analysis


RK:

river kilometer

RPAs:

reasonable and prudent alternatives

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SEDVEG:

sediment-vegetation model


USBR:

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

USFWS:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

USGS:

U.S. Geological Survey


WBNP:

Wood Buffalo National Park

WUA:

weighted usable area

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Boxes, Figures, and Tables

BOXES

S-1.

 

Statement of Task for the National Research Council,

 

5

S-2.

 

Governance Committee’s NAS Review Questions (October 31, 2002),

 

6

1-1.

 

Statement of Task,

 

27

1-2.

 

Governance Committee’s NAS Review Questions (October 31, 2002),

 

28

1-3.

 

Definitions of Terms Used in This Report,

 

29

2-1.

 

The Question of Presettlement Woodland Along the Central Platte River,

 

64

3-1.

 

Adaptive Management,

 

96

3-2.

 

Criteria for Assessing the Degree of Scientific Support for Decisions,

 

98

4-1.

 

Restoration for the Future Platte River,

 

111

FIGURES

S-1.

 

General location and features of Platte River Basin, including its position across 100th meridian,

 

2

1-1.

 

South channel of central Platte River at Rowe Sanctuary near Kearney,

 

20

1-2.

 

General location and features of the Platte River Basin, including its position across 100th meridian,

 

21

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1-3.

 

Whooping crane,

 

23

1-4.

 

Piping plover,

 

24

1-5.

 

Interior least tern,

 

24

1-6.

 

Pallid sturgeon,

 

25

2-1.

 

General location and places of interest in Platte River Basin, including its position across 100th meridian,

 

33

2-2.

 

Landforms of Platte River Basin and nearby regions,

 

35

2-3.

 

Channel of Platte River showing its broad, shallow, braided nature,

 

36

2-4.

 

Portion of Platte River Basin as shown on Map of the Trans-Mississippi of the United States During the Period of the American Fur Trade as Conducted from St. Louis Between the Years 1807-1843,

 

37

2-5.

 

Kingsley Dam on North Platte River, completed in 1941, directly controls flows downstream through central Platte River,

 

40

2-6.

 

Cumulative storage in reservoirs, number of canals constructed, and selected stream gage periods in Platte River Basin,

 

41

2-7.

 

Schematic diagram showing distribution and connections among Platte River and various parts of its water-control infrastructure,

 

43

2-8.

 

Irrigation water from groundwater and surface water in Nebraska,

 

44

2-9.

 

Distribution of Nebraska corn harvest of 1996 (a typical year), showing acres harvested for grain, 1996, and importance of agriculture and corn production along Platte River,

 

44

2-10.

 

Distribution of irrigated corn production in 1997 (a typical year), showing irrigated corn for grain or silage by county, 1997, and prominence of Nebraska and Platte River,

 

45

2-11.

 

Central-pivot irrigation systems along central Platte River,

 

46

2-12.

 

Urban areas in Platte River Basin,

 

48

2-13.

 

Gothenburg, Nebraska, typical example of small cities along central and lower Platte River that are stable or growing in size and that serve rural agricultural areas,

 

49

2-14.

 

Fluctuations of groundwater levels, showing development of mound under region of central Platte River,

 

54

2-15.

 

Map of elevation of groundwater table in 1931 shown as contour surface,

 

55

2-16.

 

Map of elevation of groundwater table in 1995 shown as contour surface,

 

56

2-17.

 

View of Platte River near Cozad, Nebraska, showing conditions in 1866, about 20 years after extensive wood use by immigrants, soldiers, and railroad crews,

 

59

2-18.

 

View of riparian and channel woodlands on central Platte River, showing conditions in part of river in 2003,

 

60

2-19.

 

View of highly varied habitats on portion of central Platte River,

 

61

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2-20.

 

Reconstruction of predevelopment vegetation based on GLO plat maps and field notes (source of witness tree data) for two Platte River townships,

 

62

2-21.

 

Generalized annual migration from southern to northern latitudes,

 

72

3-1.

 

An example reach of the central Platte River with suitable habitat for whooping crane, piping plover, and least terns,

 

77

3-2.

 

Keystone Diversion on the North Platte River, upstream from the central Platte River, represents an example of an effectively irreversible feature of the watershed that has enduring effects on flows,

 

101

4-1.

 

Periods of stream-flow record from gaging stations in Platte River Basin,

 

116

4-2.

 

Daily stream-flow record for Platte River near Duncan, Nebraska, showing length of record and variability of flow,

 

118

4-3.

 

Photograph of central Platte River near 100th Meridian in vicinity of Cozad, Nebraska, in 1866,

 

120

4-4.

 

Central Platte River with associated water control infrastructure and places of interest mentioned in this report,

 

123

4-5.

 

Johnson-2 diversion on central Platte River, a feature that influences local distribution of flows in river and provides valuable irrigation water for,

 

125

4-6.

 

Aerial photographs from 1938 (left) and 1998 (right) of Platte River at Johnson-2 irrigation return site,

 

126

4-7.

 

Aerial photographs from 1938 (left) and 1998 (right) of Platte River at western edge of Cottonwood Ranch,

 

127

4-8.

 

Aerial photographs from 1938 (left) and 1998 (right) of Platte River immediately downstream of Kearney bridge crossing,

 

127

4-9.

 

Changes in channel width at various cross sections of Platte River as interpreted by T.R. Eschner on basis of GLO plat maps (1860s) and aerial photographs (1938 and later),

 

128

4-10.

 

Changes in channel width at various cross sections of the central Platte River as interpreted by C. Johnson on basis of aerial photography,

 

129

4-11.

 

Purple loosestrife, an introduced, nonnative species that aggressively occupies some niches along Platte River,

 

131

4-12.

 

Aerial photographs from 1938 (left) and 1998 (right) of Platte River at Audubon Rowe Sanctuary,

 

132

4-13.

 

Map of areas of habitat change in cover from 1986 to 1995 for reach of Platte River near Shelton, Nebraska,

 

133

4-14.

 

Aerial photographs from 1938 (left) and 1998 (right) of Platte River west of railroad bridge near Gibbon,

 

134

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4-15.

 

Schematic diagram of basic operations of Physical Habitat Simulation System (PHABSIM) used by DOI agencies to specify connections among habitat characteristics, habitat preferences, and river discharges,

 

135

4-16.

 

Schematic example output of PHABSIM,

 

136

4-17.

 

Basic operations of Instream Flow Incremental Method (IFIM) used by DOI agencies to define recommended flow magnitudes, frequency, duration, and timing,

 

139

4-18.

 

Cleared area along central Platte River,

 

148

5-1.

 

Historical distribution of whooping cranes in North America,

 

156

5-2.

 

Distribution of whooping crane sightings in Nebraska,

 

158

5-3.

 

Map showing present (2003) home range of migrating whooping cranes and central position of Platte River, Nebraska,

 

159

5-4.

 

Available kill record locations in United States,

 

163

5-5.

 

Population numbers of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Population (AWP) of whooping cranes, number of whooping crane sightings on the Platte River, Nebraska, and the number of sighting days (number of birds times number of days seen) on the Platte River, 1950 to 2002,

 

166

5-6.

 

(a) Number of whooping cranes sighted at Platte River divided by total number of birds in Aransas-Wood Buffalo population (AWP) of whooping cranes in same year (sightings ratio). (b) Number of whooping crane use-days (number of birds times number of days birds spent on Platte River) divided by AWP in same year (use-days ratio),

 

169

5-7.

 

Results of population viability analysis scenario 2,

 

182

6-1.

 

Sandy low bars along central Platte River serve as nesting areas for piping plovers and interior least terns,

 

189

6-2.

 

Sand mines along margin of central Platte River serve as nesting areas for piping plovers and interior least terns, but not as suitable as sand masses in river,

 

190

6-3.

 

Sandy shore of Lake McConaughy provides nesting areas for piping plovers and interior least terns when the reservoir is low enough to expose beaches,

 

191

6-4.

 

Piping plovers and interior least terns distribution in Niobrara, Loup, and Platte Rivers, Nebraska,

 

192

6-5.

 

Estimated piping plover (PP) and interior least tern (LT) population numbers represented in pairs during 1991, 1996, and 2001 breeding season for Nebraska, excluding Missouri River,

 

192

6-6.

 

Area of central Platte River channel near Shelton with many primary constituent elements for the piping plover,

 

194

6-7.

 

Portion of central Platte River channel near Shelton,

 

199

6-8.

 

Piping plover nesting locations along critical habitat section of central Platte, 1987-2003,

 

207

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7-1.

 

Map showing where pallid sturgeon had been caught in Missouri and Mississippi Rivers up to 1980,

 

227

7-2.

 

Map showing where pallid sturgeon had been caught in Platte River and its tributaries in 1979-2003,

 

228

7-3.

 

Locations of priority management areas 1-6 for recovery of pallid sturgeon,

 

235

TABLES

1-1.

 

Dates of Federal Listings Under Endangered Species Act for Threatened and Endangered Species in Central Platte River,

 

25

2-1.

 

Dams in the Platte River Basin,

 

39

2-2.

 

Proportions of Waterfowl Populations That Use Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin Area and Central Platte River Valley,

 

70

4-1.

 

Annual Mean Platte River Flows, cubic feet per second,

 

118

4-2.

 

Annual Flood Peaks in Platte River Basin (Flows with Return Interval of 1.5 Years), cubic feet per second,

 

119

4-3.

 

Species Instream-Flow Recommendations of USFWS for Central Platte River, Nebraska,

 

140

4-4.

 

Annual Pulse-Flow Recommendations of USFWS for Central Platte River, Nebraska,

 

141

4-5.

 

Peak-Flow Recommendations of USFWS for Central Platte River, Nebraska,

 

141

5-1.

 

Results of Scenario 3 Simulations,

 

182

6-1.

 

Habitat Characteristics Important to the Piping Plover,

 

196

6-2.

 

Summary Input for the Piping Plover PVA Initial Model,

 

203

6-3.

 

Migration Rates Among Piping Plover Populations,

 

203

6-4.

 

Summary Statistics from PVA Similar to that of Plissner and Haig (2000), with Nebraska Birds Separated into Platte and Loup and Niobrara Populations,

 

205

6-5.

 

Habitat Characteristics Important to the Interior Least Tern,

 

212

6-6.

 

Summary Input for Interior Least Tern PVA Initial Model,

 

219

6-7.

 

Some Parameter Values for California Least Tern PVA and Parameter Values from Platte River Data,

 

219

6-8.

 

Results of the Platte and Loup Habitat Removed Scenario PVAs, Varying Nest Failure Rate on Platte and Loup Rivers, and Removing Birds of Platte and Loup Rivers and Carrying Capacity (Fixed Dispersal Rate of Interior United States into Nebraska of 0.0005 and Between Nebraska Populations of 0.01),

 

221

6-9.

 

PVA Results for Single Platte and Loup River Population with Different Amounts of Immigration,

 

222

7-1.

 

Angler Reports of Pallid Sturgeon Catches from Platte and Elkhorn Rivers, Nebraska,

 

229

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7-2.

 

Depth Use of Pallid Sturgeon Documented with Telemetry,

 

231

7-3.

 

Mean Column Velocities and Bottom Velocities at Pallid Sturgeon Sites in Telemetry Studies,

 

232

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ENDANGERED AND THREATENED SPECIES OF THE PLATTE RIVER

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The tension between wildlife protection under the Endangered Species Act and water management in the Platte River Basin has existed for more than 25 years. The Platte River provides important habitat for migratory and breeding birds, including three endangered or threatened species: the whooping crane, the northern Great Plains population of the piping plover, and the interior least tern. The leading factors attributed to the decline of the cranes are historical overhunting and widespread habitat destruction and, for the plovers and terns, human interference during nesting and the loss of riverine nesting sites in open sandy areas that have been replaced with woodlands, sand and gravel mines, housing, and roadways. Extensive damming has disrupted passage of the endangered pallid sturgeon and resulted in less suitable habitat conditions such as cooler stream flows, less turbid waters, and inconsistent flow regimes. Commercial harvesting, now illegal, also contributed to the decline of the sturgeon.

Endangered and Threatened Species of the Platte River addresses the habitat requirements for these federally protected species. The book further examines the scientific aspects of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s instream-flow recommendations and habitat suitability guidelines and assesses the science concerning the connections among the physical systems of the river as they relate to species’ habitats.

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