08 October 2010

Bird Conservation Measures Included in Environment Omaha Plan

Several notable provisions to promote bird conservation are included in a "new environmental vision" plan recently released by Environment Omaha for the River City.

Particularly notable are the following items included in the Natural Environment section. One particular section pertinent to bird-strikes, is included here in its entirety, is:

"5. Minimize the impact of noise, lights, hazards, and other disturbances on wildlife in the design of infrastructure and development.

"5.1 Ensure that collaborative efforts are taken when evaluating the impact of building development and building operations on wildlife, particularly migrating birds, because of Omaha's location being directly within migratory routes of many species.

"* Guidelines for building design and management/operation should be developed and promoted to reduce mortality and injury to birds from bird-building collisions.

"* Initiate a 'Lights Out' campaign to encourage building owners and managers to minimize lighting at night, particularly during bird migration seasons."

The impact of domestic and feral dogs and cats is also addressed.

An item states: "Support feral cat management and protection strategies that are designed to protect native bird species." This item is in a section about managing "human and wildlife interaction to improve biodiversity and native species... ." and also says: "Support education and regulation toward reducing the harm that unrestricted movement of pets has on native songbirds and small animals." Included in this section is the need to provide information useful for the "management and protection" of mammals and birds, and to work with merchants in the metro area to encourage "proper bird feeding and housing that will promote native bird species."

Habitat Conservation

There are several items listed to "preserve, protect, and restore natural communities" and the related "protect and preserve lands that are sensitive to disturbance or that provide unique ecological, cultural or aesthetic features." This includes particular recognition of springs, seeps and other water-based features which occur within the city.

Two notable examples would be the flowing springs at Spring Lake Park, and the springs in the east section of Elmwood Park which create Shadow Lake.

Also pertinent: "Establish land management and maintenance practices to restore and sustain natural communities, habitats, and ecosystem processes." Mentioned as being useful for this goal, includes conservation easements, adoption of "environmentally responsible strategies," and developing information and educational resources.

For the latter item, there is a particular mention of the need to establish a "natural habitat inventory" that would identify the flora and fauna of notable localities.

The document is the result of two year's of work by thousand's of volunteers, and was developed to provide an environmental element for the master plan for the city of Omaha. There were 23 members on the Natural Environment advisory committee.

The draft plan was unanimously endorsed October 6th, by the Omaha Planning Board. It is expected to be considered by the Omaha City Council in early December. If approved, it will then become a part of Omaha's Master Plan.

Once the document review process is finalized, and if approved, various entities such as the City of Omaha, the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District, Omaha by Design and other public/private entities or groups would be expected to implement the recommendations appropriate to their interests.

Efforts on implementation of the proposed goals are still being sorted out, according to Mike McMeekin, a co-chair of the initiative.

The entire document is available for review at the Environment Omaha website, which also provides an opportunity to submit comments.