The Irrigation SystemLike most reservoirs in Nebraska, Harlan County Reservoir was created to store water for flood control and irrigation. In the fall, winter, and spring water flowing down the Republican River is stored, to be used during the summer to water croplands. From spring to the end of irrigation season, the level of the lake can drop several feet. As the lake is drawn down, the value of the reservoir for wildlife changes.
In spring the lake is full. Water might be up to the bank. The lake provides habitat for migrating birds, especially those adapted to deeper water—diving ducks, mergansers, cormorants, osprey, and white pelicans.
By fall, the shallow water and smartweed may extend hundreds of feet out from the bank, attracting hundreds of migrating waterfowl. If the soil remains somewhat wet, the smartweed will produce abundant seeds providing high energy food for ducks, and a seed bank for the following year.
During the summer, water is drawn from the reservoir for irrigation. Shallow water becomes a hunting ground for wading birds like the great blue herons and great and snowy egrets. By August, receding water has exposed bare mudflats—habitat for gulls and shorebirds that probe in the mud for aquatic insects and crustaceans. Among these are killdeer, dowitchers, avocets, sandpipers, Franklin's and ring-billed gulls, Forster's and black terns. In the moist soil left behind by the receding water, annual plants such as smartweed, a favorite duck food, germinate.
As the irrigation season ends, the lake again begins to store water for the next growing season. The smartweed becomes flooded, making the plant food available to migrating waterfowl. Opportunities for gulls and late migrating shorebirds persist well into the fall, for some gulls, (ring-billed gulls, for example) even into winter. In most winters, hardy mallards and Canada geese can be found on open water and in nearby flowing streams.
|Marker Condition||No reports yet|
|Date Added||Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 4:15am PDT -07:00|
|UTM (WGS84 Datum)||14T E 468971 N 4438488|
|Decimal Degrees||40.09611667, -99.36401667|
|Degrees and Decimal Minutes||N 40° 5.767', W 99° 21.841'|
|Degrees, Minutes and Seconds||40° 5' 46.02" N, 99° 21' 50.46" W|
|Driving Directions||Google Maps|
|Closest Postal Address||At or near 801-899 W South St, Alma NE 68920, US|
|Alternative Maps||Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap|
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