The Land Of Flat Water (Part One)

          Its name derives from the Otoe word (That I cannot pronounce well.) Nebrathka ("Flat Water") which the french trappers translated to Platte, and the rest of us transliterated into Nebraska:

          The Platte River flows, a mile wide and an inch deep (not much of an exaggeration), through the state of Nebraska.

Rowe Sanctuary

          This photo shows the current condition of the Platte River at the location of the National Audubon Society's Rowe Sanctuary.

          My first view of this river was in the spring of 1979 as my wife and I were approaching Kearney, NE in a commuter flight from Denver, CO. The plan was for me to interview for a teaching position. As we descended to below the clouds the pilot asked the copilot, "Where is it?" (referring to the airport, I presumed) in a rather urgent tone of voice. After a bit of "scanning the horizon" one said to the other, "Over there."

          Welcome to "Outstate Nebraska" and enjoy "The Good Life!". The creation and development of Lillian Annette Rowe Sanctuary became one of several endeavors that transformed the thinking and way of life for the people in the Big Bend Reach of the Platte River.

RIP

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PriceRip's picture

          were discussing their attempts at orienteering:

          My wife and I were discussing the river below. We had never even considered we would ever see such a strange watercourse.

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janis b's picture

Not knowing the area, I read a bit about it on wiki. A braided river is a beautiful thing.

You’ve mentioned that you’re from Oregon. Did your family follow the Oregon Trail, passing along the Platte River from somewhere else in America?

Nice work that you’ve done helping to preserve a special part of Nebraska.

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PriceRip's picture

@janis b

          If people are interested I will go on and on about all the history (personal as well as correcting "common knowledge errors") and adventures (my daughter taught teachers about "this place in the country, from her informed perspective). If I were a real writer I would be able to fill a nice sized shelf with books. The really neat part is that I had the pleasure of getting to work in several groups on several projects connected to the "Rowe" theme.

          I spent more than 35 years never understanding how anyone could be bored for the lack of actually accomplishing significant systemic changes.

          I had hoped to be able to get involved with such people in Oregon. Maybe that can still happen if we can get the pandemic to stop.

RIP

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janis b's picture

@PriceRip

before you get bored.

Regarding braided rivers of the South Island, there are some like yourself trying to preserve them.

https://braidedrivers.org

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PriceRip's picture

@janis b , I should be in New Zealand.

          Bored because I feel useless. I am encountering too many people that don't understand the complexities of social engineering. I think the problem is too much group think and a weird lack of individuality, maybe?

          For example, there are those that "self-flagellate" acting as though they are failing to recycle enough when in fact there is a private for profit company making a very nice living exploiting a virtually infinite landfill (read DUMP) to the detriment of all sorts of aspects of living in harmony with nature.

          Getting though to people is hard enough but the covid situation and the sear determination of the locals to keep doing the wrong things makes matters even more difficult. I have a storehouse full of examples, but the worst is that I know a person here that is very bright but doesn't seem to be able to grasp the nature of the scam artist that has really "mucked up the works" in some critical ways. The naïvety will get us all killed in the end, literally, sigh. Rant over, and sorry to go down this unfortunately necessary hole.

RIP

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janis b's picture

@PriceRip

even though there is plenty here to rant about and be done.

"too much group think and a weird lack of individuality”. I agree, I think the lack of individuality is a problem, but fortunately there are still many young and old that are not fatally naive.

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Lookout's picture

I've had some successes preserving parts of Lookout. Helped get our river classified as an "Outstanding National Water Resource". We're still working toward a "Wild and Scenic" classification. Also helped get the NPS to create a national preserve for the canyon. So I understand your pride and worth while preservation efforts. Congrats!

From my perspective, all we can do is model the behavior we want others to express. We teach best by example IMO. All the best on the left coast, another world I know very little about.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

PriceRip's picture

@Lookout ,

          is to work out how frequently I should produce installments of The Land Of Flat Water (Part ###). Too frequently and I will burnout. On the other hand: Too infrequently and coherence will be hard to maintain. So, I suppose, this is a trial balloon.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@PriceRip Thinking of the wilding project on a Sussex farm. They have near total depletion to begin with and in the end it is lush and diverse.

Sorry about Oregon. Was born, raised and lived there until 2014. I have a friend who works in the Yamhill Watershed part of the Oregon watersheds council. The money is such a patched together quilt of not enough money, it hurts.

As a fisher-person followed many projects to bring Salmon back to western streams. So much against the whole problem. I saw the decline and loss of whole fish runs from Northern California to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Unbelievably sad. Plantation forestry and dams were the worst from what I saw.

Some small rivers like the Hood River were being restored by taking out small kilowatt dams and preventing livestock from going into streams to drink, but by then the entire ecosystem was degraded.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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PriceRip's picture

@Lookout

From my perspective, all we can do is model the behavior we want others to express. We teach best by example IMO.

          Thinking it over for a bit, I have to agree on this point because: What really kept me going over those years was the people that kept returning each season to do what was necessary to make it all work. And, of course now I have another example to reference if I am able to teach a class here. Thanks for the link.

          Sheesh, I know so very little about "The East", like blank slate ignorant.

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enhydra lutris's picture

Nebraska several times on road trips, largely along 80, but wandering off here and there. Saw my first bobolink there and ran into a veritable cloud of Monarch Butterflies, somewhere near Sydney as I recall. In fact, there is a monarch reserve out in that area not too far off of 80, spend a couple or 3 hours there (and had a picnic lunch on one of their their picnic tables. It may originally been a bison preserve, not sure.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

PriceRip's picture

@enhydra lutris , Nebraska is a study in contrasts.

          It is so very politically conservative but when you get off the main route you run into these little slices of heaven. As it is a pass through and flyover state for people, it is an incredible migratory region for wildlife. I plan to use Rowe as focal point from some of my favorite examples.

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dystopian's picture

For others, obviously PR knows of this... I know of the area, the Platte and a few cities in one area, only due to it being famous for being one of the, or probably THE, biggest staging areas for Sandhill Crane in spring. They roost in the river for a few weeks, by the hundreds of thousands. Many springs keen birders pick out a Common Crane in with them, a rarity from Asia. There are lots of vids on the Cranes at the Platte...
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sandhill+cranes+platte+river

I am afraid I missed Nebraska in my wanderings so far, would love to see it with cranes.

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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

PriceRip's picture

@dystopian

          was being a spontaneous guide. One year a very expensive van load of advanced birders got up in the morning ... and no guide was in sight. My wife, daughter, and I wandered by and struck up a conversation.

          Before you know it we all are in his very large van (small bus) driving down the "good roads" that most out of townies know nothing about. My teenage daughter sat in the back acting as disinterested as she could possibly be.

          As we approach the paddock where the Common Crane had been seen the previous day, the tourists started getting really vigilant like it was some contest among them. As we slowly passed the "hot spot" a few were starting to question whether we would get a glimpse of the intruder. Just as we drove over a slight rise in the road, the extremely bored teen drawled, "There it is." The Birders went crazy with excitement. The Common Crane put on a good show as it walked up a bit of a rise and provided ample opportunity for all to see every field mark possible.

          As we moved on what appeared to be a very expert Birder deigned to ask the teen how she spotted the Common Crane. With just a hint of a frown, she deadpanned, "It looked different from all the others." She had spent so many years with me on field burns and other expeditions into the wild, that she had developed her own "quick scan" techniques to keep alert out in nature.

RIP

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PriceRip's picture

@dystopian

          is spread out (over the span of a bit more than six weeks centered in March) across the state a bit

A Convergence

          I think we could refer to this as a convergence, of some type.

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divide in Colorado.

The North Platte starts up in high parks of colorado and flows on north into Wyoming before heading over into NE. I think it drains everything S of the Missouri. The South Platte drains the entire E side of our divide and drains everything down to south of Colorado Spring and the Arkansas River which is the next drainage on down south. We do suck up most of what we get for agriculture and lawns.

Most places in the US the Platte would be called a creek or stream as it looks not much different than its tributaries. You can tell though by the wide floodplain and cottonwoods that it's an old river.

I'd be hesitant to fish something that wanders through Denver only running enough volume to carry away pollutants. Every municipality has a sewage treatment plant also which I guess is clean enough to drink but I wouldn't put it to the test. Splatte.

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PriceRip's picture

@ban nock , was chatting about their experiences coming to the flatland. As one noted that the South Platte did indeed flow through Denver, the looks of disgust at the realization that they had been drinking the water during their stay were precious.

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PriceRip's picture

          ... given the agricultural petrochemical load, a little human waste was of no concern.

@PriceRip

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