Richard Plautz Crane Viewing Site - Gibbon
Central Platte NRD received two grants to assist with rehabilitation of the Richard Plautz Crane viewing site in Buffalo County at the intersection of Elm Island Road & Lowell Road. The site consists of two elevated wooden viewing decks, a 1,650-foot trail, and a parking lot to provide a safe area for the public to view Sandhill and Whooping Cranes as they migrate through Nebraska in the spring and Nebraska’s Platte River wildlife.
Grants Received: $259,500.00 from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administered by the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, CPNRD contributed a 20% matching share. The 1,660 LF deteriorated asphalt nature trail was replaced with an 8’ wide, 6” thick concrete trail and pave the 1,033 square yard gravel parking lot with 8” thick concrete. $50,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for repairs on the streambank near the viewing decks. The NRD removed two large trees, and installed 2,700 LF of erosion control silt fencing, 803 tons of quartzite riprap on the southeast side of Lowell Road bridge and 0.6 acres of seeding and mulching.
Alda Crane Viewing Site
In January 2022, CPNRD's Crane Viewing site near Alda was awarded a grant through the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Located two miles south of the I-80 Exit 305 along the Platte River, the crane deck provides a safe area for the public to view Sandhill and Whooping cranes as they migrate through Nebraska in the spring.
In the mid 1990’s, Central Platte NRD (CPNRD) was a partner in building the site to increase public safety by reducing the extra in-flow of traffic and cars parking on nearby county roads, which are heavily used by residents. The site also increases public awareness of Nebraska’s Platte River wildlife.
CPNRD was awarded $250,000 from the RTP to replace the existing trail with a new 1,047-foot-long, 10' wide, 6" thick, concrete recreational trail. The site’s three existing gravel parking lots will be paved with 8” thick concrete to make the area fully ADA accessible. RTP funds will also be used to replace the site's 30-year-old wooden viewing platform and cost-share a portion of the Quartzite riprap.
Project sponsors are required to have their 50% share of the total project costs on hand since sponsors must initially pay for the facilities before requesting reimbursement from the federal government. CPNRD has also requested $75,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund (NET) for non-trail related improvements associated with the Alda Crane Viewing Site Restoration Project.
Recreational Trails Program Funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration. Commissioners approved grant awards totaling nearly $1.8 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Stateside Assistance Program. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a federal grant program that was established in 1965 through the National Parks Service within the Department of the Interior.
Learn more about Central Platte NRD’s crane viewing sites by calling (308) 385-6282.