DU’s project on Dry Spotted Tail Creek is focused on fish habitat. Restoring the lower segment of Dry Spotted Tail Creek for trout benefits surrounding wetlands and waterfowl habitat. What began in 2012 as a facilitative acquisition by DU’s Wetlands America Trust transformed into a restoration effort completed in early 2021.
"The idea of restoring Dry Spotted Tail Creek and the associated wetlands was in the works for nearly a decade. This project ultimately came together because of the strong conservation partnership that we created,c said Tom Peterson, DU regional biologist in Nebraska.
The Dry Spotted Tail Creek property in Scotts Bluff County is owned and managed by Platte River Basin Environments. The goal of the restoration was to raise the water table by 6 feet to allow water to flow into a new stream channel and reconnect historic wetlands to the shallow ground water table.
"The wetlands around Dry Spotted Tail Creek haven’t functioned properly in decades. There wasn’t a reliable and consistent water source, so the wetlands haven’t been able to provide quality habitat for waterfowl or other wildlife," Peterson said.
By building a diversion structure in the existing channel of Dry Spotted Tail Creek, construction crews raised the water table to create better fish and wildlife habitat in the new stream channel and adjacent wetlands. Raising the water table returned it to its historic location, providing water for stream and wetland habitats.
"Ducks Unlimited’s habitat conservation efforts focus on waterfowl. However, we continually look for new partnerships and projects that other species can benefit from, as is the case with the project on Dry Spotted Tail Creek," Peterson said.
Partners on this restoration project include Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Platte River Basin Environments, Trout Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Environmental Trust and Pheasants Forever.