BUY A PERMIT         MAKE A RESERVATION MENU

Dry Spotted Tail Creek and Wetland Aquatic Habitat Project

Aerial View of Spotted Tail,

An aerial view of Dry Spotted Tail aquatic habitat project in Scotts Bluff County. Justin Haag/NEBRASKAland Magazine, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Why we did it

Dry Spotted Tail’s cool water temperatures are enough to support trout year-round supplied by active irrigation flows from the area, but the channel had been straightened, cutting 9 feet into the soil, draining the surrounding wetland and lowering the local water table. Without connecting to the floodplain, the creek located west of Mitchell didn’t support trout or migratory birds and waterfowl as it once had.

How we did it

This Aquatic Habitat Project was a highly collaborative effort that utilized public and private partnerships. The plan was approved in the spring of 2019, with construction beginning later that summer.

Over two years, a meandering stream channel was created that balanced sediment erosion and deposition, and therefore maintained water levels and connectivity to the floodplain. We constructed 3/4-mile of trout and native fish habitat and improved the wetland to support migratory birds and waterfowl.

The new channel construction was completed in 2020 with rocks and toe-wood habitat structures. The project also included a permanent fixture to divert flow to the newly created channel from its original location.

The renovation of Dry Spotted Tail Creek was completed in the spring of 2021.

What benefits from these changes

Dry Spotted Tail Creek flows south into the North Platte River. The renovation project meant anglers had increased public opportunities to fish for trout, but the wetland also was restored. Approximately, 1,360 acres of wetland habitat now support terrestrial wildlife and aquatic species on Spotted Tail Wildland. The renovation was a success for anglers, wildlife and agriculture.

Work is conducted on Dry Spotted Tail Creek to restore the wetland and allow the creek to support trout.

Project partners

  • Platte River Basin Environments, renovation project partner
  • Trout Unlimited, renovation project partner
  • Ducks Unlimited, renovation project partner
  • Pheasants Forever, renovation project partner
  • The Nebraska Environmental Trust, funding partner
  • Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, funding partner
  • National Water-Quality Assessment, funding partner

The Aquatic Habitat Program

The Aquatic Habitat Program was created in 1997 and was the first program of its kind in the nation. Since then 100s of waterbodies across the state — everything from lakes to streams to rivers to ponds — have been renovated, improving aquatic life and water quality for Nebraskans.

Learn about the program