Nebraska’s crane season sees no takers due to pandemic

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With many tourists putting a halt on travelling, the economy in the state of Nebraska has been affected. During crane season, boardwalks and pathways surrounding Rowe Sanctuary are normally packed, but due to COVID-19 this year, they haven’t seen the number of visitors they normally would, Nebraska TV reports.

“Well during crane season, you’d normally see 25 to 30 thousand through the door in six weeks,” said the Director for the Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary Bill Taddicken.

As COVID-19 swept the nation, Taddicken said they were barely open for one week before having to shut down. “It’s been a big impact for us. We probably lost about 250 to 300 thousand dollars in revenue this year in just our income. Fortunately, we had a lot of response from past donors,” said Taddicken.

The Director at the Kearney Visitors Bureau Roger Jasnoch said the sandhill cranes attract visitors from across the country and around the world. It’s one of the main reasons people travel to central Nebraska.

“We just got the migration started in March and COVID hit and unfortunately overnight dried that market up for us. That was unfortunate because of what happened last year. Even a typical year will be a fresh breath of air for next year and we’re excited and hopefully everything is obviously recovered by then,” said Jasnoch.

It wasn’t the only thing that impacted the state in a negative way, as conventions and conferences draw people in from other areas, according to Nebraska TV.

“We’re working to preserve the conventions that we do have in place for this year. July and August have virtually disappeared. We still have some in September and October and then November. Slowly but surely, it’s not going to be a quick fix overnight. It’s going to take several months for people to feel comfortable traveling,” said Jasnoch.

Like the hotel sector, the Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary is also preparing to reopen with guidelines to keep everyone safe. “The trails are still open. Social distancing is recommended out on the trails, but we aren’t requiring masks out on the trails obviously because you are outside. If you’re going to be in the building, we are requiring masks. We are trying to still observe social distancing. We’ve set up barriers for the cash register and things like that so we can protect our employees also,” said Taddicken.

Tourism officials are also encouraging those who are looking to still get out and support local businesses without travelling far to utilize the state’s passport program, Nebraska TV reports.

“Those dollars have been lost and some of those are gone. In some situations, tourism is a big thing in small communities. It doesn’t take a big deal to help those communities prosper. So we simply urge people in Nebraska to look at what we have to offer first, and the passport program is a great way to do that,” said Jasnoch.