Platte Basin Time Lapse Project

platte basin 2Update, August 2016: Pete Stegen and Michael Forsberg pull up their canoe on the western bank at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers in the Schilling Wildlife Management Area, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, after they ended their two-month, 1,000-mile traverse of the Platte Basin. To learn more about their journey, visit their Facebook page, Platte Basin Timelapse.

 

Located at Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary, this camera location provides a bird's eye view of a braided river channel and shifting sandbars along the central Platte River. The location is also one of several major roosting sites for migrating sandhill cranes during spring migration. Between late February and early April, nearly 500,000 sandhill cranes will use this critical stretch of habitat in south-central Nebraska.

Located at Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary, this camera location provides a bird's eye view of a braided river channel and shifting sandbars along the central Platte River. The location is also one of several major roosting sites for migrating sandhill cranes during spring migration. Between late February and early April, nearly 500,000 sandhill cranes will use this critical stretch of habitat in south-central Nebraska.

 

Update, July 2016: Braided Journey. Where does your water come from? Follow conservation photographer Michael Forsberg and field producer Pete Stegan at as they begin a two-month, 1000 mile traverse of the Platte River Basin. Traveling by bike, foot and canoe through Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, they will explore this critical water source, and show you how it intersects with the lives of those that live in this 90,000 square mile watershed in the heart of North America.

 

 

 

Update, October 2013: Images captured by the time lapse cameras during September flooding of the South Platte River.

Images of seasonal change from the Gudmundsen Windmill.

First Rowe Install 6

What if we could follow the Platte River’s serpentine path from beginning to end? Imagine seeing snow piling up during the winter on the Continental Divide in North Park, Colorado and then watching it melt into Lake Agnes and down into the North Platte River over the span of one summer. What if we could observe the North Platte in Wyoming below Pathfinder Dam, where its waters fluctuate dramatically in response to power and irrigation demands? Perhaps we could envision a complete growing season in Nebraska’s Platte Valley as the river pulses through irrigation canals and laterals, watering fields of sugar beets, corn, and beans. With the right photographic evidence, we could even witness the thrill of the annual Sandhill crane migration through the central Platte Valley.

Now, imagine watching all of these events unfurl in the span of a few minutes, from the convenience of your desktop computer.

What can we learn from the Platte River about the rich history—and future—of our state? This question was the spark behind the Platte Basin Time Lapse Project. Photographer Michael Forsberg and documentary producer Mike Farrell decided in 2010 to document the Platte River using advanced digital cameras. They are deploying 45 time-lapse cameras along the river’s path, each of which takes a picture hourly during daylight. With these images, the river and surrounding areas can be understood in significant new ways. These photos promise insight into all aspects of the Platte Basin: agricultural and geological processes, ecology and sustainability, municipal water supplies, wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.

The Cooper Foundation has made three grants to NET for this project, the first in 2010 to jump start the acquisition of Nikon cameras and the second in 2011 for equipment and development of the website documenting the project. Our third grant in 2012 is for technology innovations so that images can be downloaded and received remotely.

The project has also received major support from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, and Platte Valley Financial Services. Project partners are NET, Michael Forsberg Photography, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Nikon Corporation.