Environmental
Stewardship

Since its inception, Platte River Power Authority has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Platte River continuously reviews and improves environmental performance, policies, and sustainable business practices.

The preservation of wildlife has always been a Platte River priority. The utility owns and manages two herds of American Bison on the Rawhide site and Hamilton Reservoir is a year-round attraction for native wildlife and migratory birds. Rawhide is operated as a zero-liquid discharge facility and all water and storm water used in its generation process is managed on-site.

Rawhide Bison Herds

Bison in a fieldThe land around the Rawhide Energy Station is home to two herds of American bison. Their ancestors roamed the plains around Rawhide and northern Colorado. The bison herds serve as Platte River’s environmental ambassadors, demonstrating that wildlife can coexist in harmony with responsibly operated generation facilities.

The original herd was purchased in November 1983 from a ranch in Wray, Colorado. This original herd numbered nine cows, 10 calves and one mature bull, “The Duke of Wellington.” The animals are descendants of a Haxtun, Colorado, herd begun over 50 years ago by the Roger Cunningham family whose herd descended from the herd at Custer State Park in South Dakota.

The herd was purchased through an “Adopt-a-Buffalo” program proposed by Platte River’s first general manager Albert J. Hamilton and approved by Platte River’s Board of Directors. A total of 28 businesses, groups and individuals donated funds to purchase the original herd, including 21 Platte River employees.

Herd counts have ranged from 20 to 51. The original herd was split into an upper and lower herd in 1999 to preserve bloodlines. As of July 2016, the lower herd has 19 animals plus Sarge; the upper herd has 22 animals plus Jack.

There are currently two herd bulls–Cold Creek Bison “Jack”” (born in 2012) and Sarge (born in 2012). Each bull weighs approximately one ton (2,000 lbs).

Since 1986, Platte River has entered numerous animals in the National Bison Association (NBA) Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show each January. These animals have received many awards in addition to many honorable mentions.

In 1997, Platte River was named producer of the year during the NBA Gold Trophy Show and Sale at the National Western Stock Show, receiving the Tony Heim Memorial Award. In 2010, Platte River was named producer of the year at the Peak to Peak Bison Show and Sale.

Platte River employees are responsible for herd management and provide water, supplemental feed and rotate the herds from pasture to pasture in addition to assisting the herd veterinarian, Dr. Robert Mortimer, DVM, Colorado State University, when needed.

The opportunity to observe the harmony that can exist between Buffalo, which once inhabited the Rawhide site, and Platte River’s modern facility that will produce energy there, will provide an invaluable lesson in the way a coal-fired power plant can be operated without environmental degradation. - Albert J. Hamilton

Wildlife at Rawhide

Bald eagle in field



Platte River Power Authority’s Rawhide Energy Station is home to a variety of wildlife. The use of a manmade reservoir instead of cooling towers makes the Rawhide Energy Station a year-round attraction for migratory birds, antelope, and more.

Rawhide Energy Station has been a site for the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count since 1986. A great place to view birds at Rawhide is the visitors’ overlook at the south end of Hamilton Reservoir. The overlook is normally open to the public from sunrise to sunset, but may be closed without notice due to inclement weather or other circumstances. Platte River recommends calling (970) 229.1776 ahead of time to make sure the overlook is open. To reach the overlook, visitors should travel on I-25 to exit 288. Rawhide and the overlook are located about three miles west of exit 288 on Buckeye Road (Larimer County Road 82).

View counts from
all years:

Birds (excel doc)

More information about the National Audubon Society Annual Christmas Bird Count

Learn More