Platte River Water Trails Guide (PRWT): (Cont. from homepage) There are five main goals for the PRWT project: revise the current print materials, create a GIS trail map, create an interactive website for trip planning, improve the public access points, and increase signage for educational and on-trail purposes. Revisions of the print material include additional color photos, improved map format to highlight the river and its resources, and designated sections of the trail noting partial, single or multiple-day trips. The proposed GIS trail map will use real-time and site images to show launch sites, hazards, and river obstructions. The proposed interactive website for trip-planning is based off of the Missouri National Recreational River water trail feature. Their website provides contact information, camping and restroom locations, who maintains the area, and anecdotal notes for each site.
Currently there are six public access points throughout the LPR, however a few are in poor condition and the need exists for more access points to break, get drinking water, and use the restroom. The fifth goal is to deploy interpretive signage along the river, but this task will be delayed so information will be current at the time.
Those working on the project have recently completed base-line mapping of four segments of the lower Platte River. Other progress has been made by documenting river-access points with GPS values and photos taken from the water. The NGPC hopes to have the basic information posted online sometime in November (LINK).
WQ Monitoring Network: The LPRCA recently received a NET grant to protect and improve water resources in the lower Platte River basin. This project will be conducted by continuous monitoring of stream-flow characteristics, and increasing the awareness and education of water contaminants in recreational waters. Four stream-gauging stations already exist in the lower Platte River basin: Shell Creek near Columbus, Elkhorn River at Waterloo, Salt Creek near Ashland, and the Platte River at Louisville. Data on discharge and water quality have already been collected for the years 2008-2010 at these sites (LPR WQ-Monitoring Network website). With the grant funding, data for the project will continue to be collected at these sites for the next two years (Goal 1). The data will be analyzed (Goal 2) to compare flow rate (discharge) with water contaminant presence, and equations will be developed showing the correlation. Generally, heavy rains lead to contaminated run-off in the recreational waterways. Goal 3 is to develop a water contamination prediction model, based on equations from Goal 2, that will be available online to the public in near real-time. To view the USGS gauge sites in relation to the Lower Platte River Corridor, click here.
Lower Platte River Corridor Environmental Sustainability Assessment (ESA): The Lower Platte River Corridor Environmental Sustainability Assessment (ESA) is a multi-phase effort that will develop a planning framework for responsible, consistent, and sustainable development in the Lower Platte River Corridor. This effort involves assembling environmental and natural resource-related information and using it to develop tools to assist decision makers. These tools will help identify environmental considerations when making land-use decisions.
Phase I consisted of data identification, collection, evaluation, and organization. Data acquisition included: land-use plans, natural resources, water supply and wastewater management, and infrastructure for the entire Lower Platte River Corridor. Phase I was completed in March 2006.
The information that was gathered in Phase I was analyzed and mapped to create a coordinated, corridor-wide planning resource that evaluates issues such as floodplains, natural communities, protected lands, wellhead protection areas, and planned roadway improvements.
Phase II covered the area from Fremont to the lower Platte River's confluence with the Missouri River. The purpose of this phase was to:
- assess existing natural resources and environmental features
- identify environmental considerations relative to development suitability
- provide key decision-making criteria for land use decisions
As part of this phase, local planning jurisdictions, environmental resource managers, utility companies, and aggregate mining companies were surveyed to gather input and identify environmental features that affect their specific land use planning and decisions. This phase was completed in August 2008.
Phase III: The same activities that occurred in Phase II were repeated for the lower Platte region from Columbus to Fremont. The final grant report to the Nebraska Environmental Trust was submitted late July 2011. A copy of the final report can be viewed here.
In addition, a Land Suitability Analysis (LSA) model was developed in Phase lll. This model provides a planning tool to determine the suitability for various types of land-use including recreation, development, water quality or supply, wildlife or conservation areas, agriculture, and mining. The purpose of this model is to provide a way to identify, classify and prioritize land in order to promote sustainable land-use plans and decisions.
The next step is to begin a process to develop the "predictive" or "what if" component of the LSA model. The scenarios will be developed through meetings with LPRCA members and other stakeholders and would show the impact that levels of development or other changes in current land use would have on the other factors and features (e.g. water quality, recreation, wildlife habitat, agriculture, etc). This would also continue to advance the mission of these tools—to provide timely and consistent planning information to stakeholders throughout the corridor. We plan to continue to develop this aspect of the LSA in the upcoming year.
Cumulative Impact Study: This study aims to examine the cumulative effects of activities and practices in the Lower Platter River Corridor over time, and their impact on the terrestrial and aquatic habitat's of the Platte River.
Phase I - Scope development was completed in August 2005.
Phase II - Data Acquisition was the focus of Phase ll. Compiling aerial photos and transect data for six time periods (1850, 1938, 1950's, 1970's, 1993, and 2003) with land-use classification, lead to a hydrologic study looking at changes in the river over time, and the development of an online internet mapping service to access the GIS information. A final report on the Cumulative Impact Study (CIS), Phase II was completed September, 2008.
Phase III -
Prediction Model Development: Meetings for the development of a Conceptual Ecological Model are continuously being held throughout Phase III to identify missing information needed to: determine the character of the river, assess threats to endangered and threatened species, identify the processes of concern, and prioritize research and management actions. A select group of representatives of UNL, USFWS, USACE, USGS, NGPC, and the NRDs continue to identify components of the conceptual model and identify "knowns" and "gaps" as far as research is concerned. In spring of 2011, this group of representives and the LPRCA made significant head way in alliterating the basic components of the river's system and how they are related to one another.
Research: Phase III research has focused on water flow and how it affects sediment transfer. Using data tools from Phase II and Phase III, we can identify how water flow and sediment changes could affect the amount of habitat for threatened and endangered species. The USGS, in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers, spent the summer of 2010 collecting sediment samples and GIS cross-sections of the river, and then conducted a sediment budget analysis. Draft results of their studies, entitled "Sediment Samples and Channel-Geometry Data, Lower Platte River Watershed in Nebraska, 2010" and "Geomorphic Classification and Evaluation of Channel Width and Emergent Sandbar Habitat Relationships on the Lower Platte River, Nebraska", are available and can be viewed via the link below. The Army Corps of Engineers anticipates that the sediment budget analysis will be completed fall of 2011.
Future of the CIS: Items identified as priorities for the next phase of the CIS include: a 3-year Sandbar Monitoring study with USGS; a full reconnaissance study of bank stabilization along the Lower Platte; and continued development of the conceptual model.
For access to the CIS interactive GIS program, click here.
USGS Sandbar Monitoring Study
During March, LPSNRD agreed to conduct a 1-year pilot sandbar monitoring study from Salt Creek to Highway 75 with USGS and in partnership with the Tern & Plover Partnership and the LPRCA. The one-year pilot study funded by LPSNRD will identify the following characteristics of sandbars on the lower Platte River: frequency/abundance; location; area; height; bank attachment; and vegetation density through three separate surveys. In addition time lapse cameras at various points will be used to observe more frequent changes and correlate river stages to sandbar frequency and size. Most of the data related to the characteristics will be collected only on bars 2.0 acres or larger in size with the exception of frequency/abundance & location. Sandbars of 2 acres or larger are generally considered to be what is needed for Tern & Plover nesting habitat. The initial survey was conducted following "ice-off" in April/early May, the second survey was during the high flow period in late June/July and the final survey will be at low flow this fall.
The 1-year pilot study will comprise a baseline data set for an expanded 3-year study to be included within a Nebraska Environmental Trust proposal. The proposal will be submitted in September 2011 and will extend the current pilot sandbar study. The 3-year project does not include any new LPRCA funds at this time. Additionally, this data set will help further the sediment budget analysis currently being developed as part of Phase III of the Cumulative Impact Study and get to the end goal of developing a predictive model to understand how land use changes are impacting the river. Finally, the proposed work will continue to support the investigation and understanding of Tern & Plover habitat on the lower Platte River.
View recent project reports here.
NE Land Trust - (Website)
NE Innovation Zone Commission - (Website)
Nebraska-Iowa Regional Orthophotography Consortium (NIROC) - Partnering to collect LiDAR data for the LPR.
PACE - To develop and facilitate cooperation among and between communities, conservation interests and the sand/gravel producers of Nebraska.
Nebraska Alliance Conservation Environment of Education - The NACEE seeks to foster an environmentally literate citizenry in Nebraska and serve as a leader in conservation and environment education. (Website)
NE/IA Metroplex Conference