Gibbon, NE As the weather gets warmer, it means one big thing for Central Nebraska: Crane Season. With the Sandhill Cranes arriving, the Rowe Sanctuary in Gibbon begins its 40th year of hosting the famous birds. And they spent this past weekend celebrating that anniversary.
The Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary opened in 1974, and now stands as a global landmark.
"This is the only place in the world where this many cranes get together. This is a one of a kind spectacle. Cranes for some reason really illicit a feeling for people and it brings people out," said Bill Taddicken, the Director at Audubon's Rowe Sanctuary.
In it's 40th year, the sanctuary recognizes how busy they get this time of year and what they bring to the state of Nebraska.
Taddicken said, "We have about 15,000 people every year that come from all over the world. We have over 50 countries represented every Spring and all 50 states each year so it's really bringing people and tourism here, it's bringing millions of dollars into the area every year so it's a big boost to the economy and to the Kearney area in whole."
On Sunday one of their volunteers, Doreen Pfost who has studied the Platte River and Sanctuary for a decade, spoke on their history and importance.
Pfost said, "What happened before on the Platte River matters because that's how we know to help keep protecting the habitat here in the future. The other thing I want people to think about, really, is how much difference ever person can make."
Pfost said there aren't day-to-day responsibilities for people, but there is something the public can do.
She said, "I think as long as we all stat informed about what's happening with water issues, habitat issues, the conflicting needs and use of water on the river, and what wildlife require. As long as we're aware of those things, then when decisions are being made, we all have a voice with our elected representatives and if we know what the facts are, then we can help in making good decisions."
And as long as that happens, the sanctuary can continue just as they intend to. This celebration isn't just recognizing the past, but the bright future as well.
"This is just the beginning and we plan on continuing and creating a great future for this river and for the kids and the people that enjoy it," said Taddicken.