The North Platte NRD comprises Banner, Garden, Morrill, Scotts Bluff and southern Sioux counties in the North Platte Valley in the Nebraska Panhandle.
A Closer Look
This is a land area of more than 3 million acres with a population of more than 45,000 people and 18 communities (14 incorporated and four unincorporated). Land use consists of range (63 percent), crop and pasture (33 percent), and lakes and wetlands, forest and other uses (4 percent).
Major agricultural products are cattle, corn, sugar beets, dry edible beans, alfalfa and wheat. Most crops require irrigation because annual average precipitation is 14 to 17 inches.
The largest source of irrigation water is the North Platte River. A system of dams and canals in the river valley, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation since the early 1900s, diverts water from the river and stores it to irrigate about 300,000 acres. Some groundwater also is used to irrigate.
The North Platte Valley also is noted for its historical role in the westward expansion of the United States. In the 1800s several major overland emigrant trails, including the Oregon and Mormon Trails, followed the North Platte River.
Noted landmarks such as Chimney Rock, Courthouse and Jail Rocks and Scotts Bluff National Monument trace their fame to this era.