Trump Administration Continues Work with States on Endangered Species Protections on Platte River

It seems only fair, that if we’re to read the press releases of, for example, CBD about how bad things are, we should also highlight when there are environmental success stories.  I wouldn’t have found this one except a paragraph in a local newspaper.  Short story: Feds and state are getting along with water providers and other stakeholders to protect endangered species, even to the tune of providing lotsa bucks.

Secretary of the Interior, along with Governors of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, commit an additional $156 million for recovering threatened and endangered species in the Platte River Basin


 U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed an amendment to the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Cooperative Agreement, along with the governors of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, committing resources to extend the program through Dec. 31, 2032. The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program utilizes federal- and state-provided financial resources, water and scientific monitoring and research to support and protect four threatened and endangered species that inhabit areas of the Central and Lower Platte rivers in Nebraska while allowing for continued water and hydropower project operations in the Platte River basin.

“This program is truly an important partnership that has been successful because of the broad collaboration between federal and state representatives, water and power users and conservation groups,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “All of these stakeholders working together to help recover imperiled species is critical as new water and power projects are continued and developed in the Platte River Basin.”

The program provides compliance for four species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for new and existing water-related projects in the Platte River Basin. Examples of existing water related projects include the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado Big-Thompson Project on the South Platte River in Colorado and the North Platte Project in Wyoming and Nebraska.

“Programs like the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program are critical to ensuring that Reclamation is able to deliver water and power in an environmentally and economically sound manner,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman “This program is a true success story of how stakeholders and government from across state lines can work together for the common good.”

And if you see things through partisan lens here’s our favorite Boulderite governor:

“The signing of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Cooperative Agreement Amendment marks the celebration of more than a decade of success,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “The commitment by the states and the U.S. Department of the Interior to continue the program’s innovative approach to species recovery and Endangered Species Act compliance is a win-win for the future of Colorado’s citizens and the environment. We look forward to the next 13 years working with our partners to lead in this national model of collaboration.”

3 thoughts on “Trump Administration Continues Work with States on Endangered Species Protections on Platte River”

  1. It looks like you can thank the Endangered Species Act for this level of cooperation and progress. From a press release about a 2006 Biological Opinion on the effects of Platte River water management on the four species:

    “Over the past 20 years, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that many water projects in the Platte River Basin are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of these four species by altering river and nearby habitat along the central and lower reaches of the Platte River in Nebraska.

    Leaders from the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska, and the Department of the Interior, along with water managers and environmental group representatives, believe that the best way to address these impacts is through a basinwide, cooperative effort to improve river flows and land habitat for the target species. This was the basis for the Cooperative Agreement, which the States and the Department of the Interior signed in 1997.”

    Given the prior jeopardy determination by the FWS (meaning river management was violating ESA), they have a lot of influence over what the parties can legally do without violating ESA, and this plan was necessary to successfully get this non-jeopardy determination from the FWS in 2006.

    • That’s true, Jon,! Thanks for pointing this out. I think it’s also interesting that this was the same kind of pressure and the same kind of “working together” and even some of the same states as involved in sage grouse. I continue to wonder what would have happened if Lyons et al had not chosen to add to what the states originally wanted to do with the grouse.

      • The sage grouse plans were to prevent listing, and the Platte plan is for species already listed. Someone can legally choose to let a species get listed, but they can’t legally jeopardize a listed species. So maybe less incentive to reach agreement for sage grouse (but that doesn’t really answer your question).


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