The annual Sandhill crane migration is big business for central Nebraska. Each year more than 600,000 cranes stop along the Platte River Valley in early spring to rest and refuel before flying north to their breeding ground.
Associate Dean of the College of Business and Technology at the University of Nebraska- Kearney, Bree Dority says conducted a study to show the economic impact related to tourism during the migration each spring in thirteen counties totaled $14.3 million this year alone.
Dority says, “Twenty-six percent of the impact is attributable to the centers devoted to crane preservation, education and viewing. The other 74% is attributable to the more than 43,000 non-central Nebraska crane visitors. These thousands of people came to the area, brought in new money as they spent on hotels, restaurants and other entertainment.” The study shows visitors spent on-average $93.37 a day while visiting central Nebraska.
That tourism money also provides employment. Dority says, “The crane centers and other perseveration centers, they obviously employ people but this money generated also supports other jobs. We estimate that this $14.3 million economic impact is supporting 182 year-round equivalent jobs in that area. The visitors are coming, they are spending money at the restaurant and that waitress or waiter is being employed partly because of this phenomenon.”
UNK students from the Communications Inquiry class surveyed 860 visitors at crane viewing venues and roadside attractions to gather this information.