Platte River Prairies Campaign

A campaign to protect and rebuild habitat, support research and science and help connect people to nature in this special place.

A shell leaf penstemon in bloom along the Platte River Prairies.

Platte River Prairies: By the Numbers

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    Acres in TNC's conservation ownership

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    Species of seeds harvested to restore prairies

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    Number of Hubbard Conservation Fellowship graduates

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    Sandhill cranes that migrate through the Platte River yearly

Who Will You Be at the Platte?

A campaign for prairies and their people

Nestled among miles of cropland between Grand Island and Kearney, you can still find special places where birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians buzz, tweet, call, sing, scuttle, and soar… all alongside an iconic, braided river with some of the prettiest sunsets in the world.

The Nature Conservancy is preserving the diversity of life at the Platte River Prairies.  As we face the twin crises of biodiversity/species loss and climate change, the Platte River Prairies matter not only to serve as an oasis for wildlife, but as places designed to teach, gather, collaborate, test, and share what we know and what we need to know. 

A flock of six sandhill cranes in flight.
Sandhill Cranes in Flight Sandhill cranes fly from the Platte River in spring. © Even Barrientos

A Hero for Habitat

Climate change is increasing the prevalence of invasive species in a landscape already facing threats to its survival. With so few prairies remaining – and with each one relying on the others to fight the costs of fragmentation – we cannot afford to lose a single acre. Your investment will help: fund ecologists and equipment; build a new workshop/research facility; enable TNC to respond to rare opportunities to place new land in conservation ownership; and renovate a seed barn storage. 

A person looks out through the gauzy cover of a bird blind.
(ALL RIGHTS) Daniel Helzer watching sandhill cranes from a blind on the Platte River. The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska. Photo credit: © Chris Helzer/TNC © Chris Helzer/TNC

A Science Supporter

Demand for our Director of Science Chris Helzer’s time is unprecedented. He is impacting the conservation of hundreds of thousands of acres while mentoring recent college graduates in the Claire M. Hubbard Young Leaders in Conservation Fellowship Program. To support Chris, the Fellows, researchers, landowners, and conservation practitioners, salary support and on-site housing is desperately needed. 

Three people stand together in the tall grass of a prairie.

A Prairie Patron

People will protect what they know. This campaign includes investments in a new educational center, hiking trails/visitor amenities designed with accessibility in mind, a dedicated outreach coordinator, funds for field days, and crane blinds, because building a constituency for nature isn’t a luxury – it’s mission critical. 

From invasive species to climate change, the Platte River needs TNC’s science, solutions, and people now more than ever. It’s not hopeless.  We have hope because we have you.

This $15,000,000 campaign for conservation needs you. Who will you be at the Platte?


The Great Migration: Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska (4:57) The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska's Director of Science, Chris Helzer, describes the spring gathering of the more than 600,000 sandhill cranes at the "pinch in the hourglass" on the migratory flyway.
Nebraska State Director smiling towards the camera.

Director's Letter

Dear Friends,

You know, there really is no place like the Platte.

The annual migration of sandhill and whooping cranes – not to mention geese, ducks, and butterflies – has put the Platte River on the world’s map, especially in recent years.  People hungry for a connection to nature can find it here every spring.

What I love best about my job is knowing people like you who see it the same way: there’s beauty in the Platte River’s braided channels and her prairies for those who care to find it 365 days of the year.

This campaign is like a braid, too.  We are weaving together the people, policies, prairies, wetlands (and the river, of course) that make this special place the subject of poetry and prose.  Together, we have carved out – and fought to maintain – a 3,476 acre oasis for wildlife among miles of corn and soybeans.  We are working with partners and landowners to keep the river channels clear for wildlife.  We are influencing the policies that govern the river’s future. We work side-by-side with farms to keep more water in the river when wildlife needs it most.

The ‘hows’ of this campaign are exciting to me.  We have a creative, dedicated team of ecologists standing between these special places and the impacts of climate change and invasive species.  Ultimately, it’s the ‘why’ of this campaign that means the most to me. 

We protect the Platte and her prairies because they give us food, water, joy, fun, and connection. They help make us who we are as Nebraskans.  

What we do in the next ten years will shape the next generation. What is the future you see? Who will you be at the Platte?

With gratitude,

John Cougher, State Director
The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska

Support our Efforts

People will protect what they know. This campaign includes investments in a new educational center, hiking trails/visitor amenities, a dedicated outreach coordinator, funds for field days, and crane blinds, because building a constituency for nature isn’t a luxury – it’s mission critical.