One Irrigator's Waste Is Another's Supply


As North Platte Valley farmers upstream become more efficient in their use of irrigation water, less water is available for downstream users in Nebraska's panhandle. 


Debating Preservation in the Southwest's Spanish Missions


Despite their importance as tangible symbols of a thorny history, the Southwest's missions survive today in a wide range of conditions. Some are just decaying piles of melted adobe. The National Park Service and other preservation experts are still learning how to take care of them, using earthy materials such as mud and cactus glue. And there's an ongoing philosophical argument: Do we honor history more by arresting its progress or by letting it run its course -- even if it means the loss of historic artifacts?

Craniac Migration


Each spring, most of the North American population of sandhill cranes migrates through Nebraska's Central Platte Valley, spending three to four weeks along the river and nearby wetland habitat, feeding, resting and socializing. And each spring, thousands of tourists—sometimes fondly called “craniacs”—perform their own migration, traveling from near and far to see them.

Ice Jams: Nature's Bulldozers


Ice jams occur when ice chunks, frozen by cold winter temperatures, pile up in the river, usually around an obstruction like a bridge or narrow point in the channel. They can cause water to back up behind the jam and flood lowlands near the river. These river processes have always been an intrinsic part of the Platte River, helping to create its braided structure.

What the Pioneers Saw


Four trails through Nebraska and Wyoming overlapped or ran parallel, marking a formative era in the Euro-American development of the American West: the Oregon Trail; the California Trail; the Mormon Pioneer Trail; and the Pony Express, a short-lived mail service. One hundred and fifty years ago, an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 men, women, and children carted their wagons across a landscape very different than the one we see today—wide, lush prairie rolled as far as they could see. Today, the original “viewsheds” of these trails are largely gone.