Back in early 2006, a 200-acre tract of land along the Platte River in southcentral Nebraska was purchased by Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary with the help of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The acquisition helped complete the protection of another mile of river channel and created an opportunity to restore habitat for at-risk wildlife, especially the threatened and endangered species that rely on the broad, braided river channels of the Platte.
|Lights from the city of Kearney glow in the distance at twilight as thousands of sandhill cranes gather|
on a Platte River roost at the Dinan tract of Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary.
|Evening light sets off the silk-like seed hairs of common milkweed.|
|A remote camera captures a federally threatened piping plover and its hours-old chick at the nest|
on a restored sandbar island in the Platte River channel.
By fall 2006 the restoration was complete. Almost as if on cue, a migrating family of three endangered whooping cranes were observed roosting on its restored braided channels and using the newly created prairie sloughs. The following summer, federally threatened piping plovers and endangered least terns nested successfully on the sandbar islands, marking the first time in a decade that either species had been documented nesting in the channel on the Big Bend reach of the Platte. Needless to say, conservation was getting an early return on its investment.
|In early fall, a doe pauses along the woodland edge on its way to the river.|
Over his 28-year career, John Dinan was keen at identifying threats to the threatened and endangered wildlife he cared so much about. His easy manner, deep knowledge of the natural world and focused, common sense approach also made him just as keenly adept at finding solutions and moving conservation forward. His work and vision on least terns and piping plovers, for example, helped establish the Tern and lover Conservation Partnership, and his careful field observations helped guide the design of the nesting islands on the site that now honors his memory.
|In early winter a bobcat moves along a game trail connecting river, woodland and prairie.|