03 October 2010

Remnant of Hanscom Park Woods not a Focus for Proposed Dog Run

Plans for a dog-run at Hanscom Park in eastern Omaha have been revised to exclude the remnant of an unkempt wooded area in the northeast corner of the park-lands.

Following a few email communications, and after a meeting which the Hanscom Park neighborhood association had with Omaha Parks and Recreation officials in latter August, the focus for a plan to develop a fenced dog run is now the north-central portion of the east Omaha park.

The local community has been developing in recent months a plan to a free-run area for canines on the publicly-owned grounds of the park.

One of their first options was the northeast corner of the urban park (area 3 on the map graphic), since it was an unused area, with a suitable area and mature trees that would provide shade.

Following some email exchanges with a dog-run proponent regarding the value of the woods for various species of migratory birds, a late-September email was received that indicated the most recent preference for the dog run.

The current area intended for use is at the north-central portion of the park (area 4 on the map graphic), in an area which is now mostly lawn, as shown in a map presented on the website of the Hanscom Park Neighborhood Association.

In a reply derived from the group's map and rendition of notes from a meeting with the director of the parks and recreation - and because of their request for an opinion - the following comments were provided after looking at the area map; the dog run would be "away from the woods, and would have little impact there. Also, I like that the trees will be fenced to be protected from urine. The plan as it stands at this time, does not appear that it will have any potential impacts on the plants and habitat used by birds ..."

Based on the current plan of early October 2010, the bit of woodlands at the park can remain undisturbed to provide natural habitat for birds, at a place where birds were much more prevalent in former decades. Their modern occurrence has declined as the setting has dramatically changed through the decades since the first report on birds was indicated by Frank H. Shoemaker, early in the 20th century.

With the intent to develop the parklands known before anything had actually occurred on the site, an awareness and search for participants on the internet, there was an opportunity to express the obvious bird use of remnant habitats. The proponents for a dog-run took these views into consideration and subsequently made an alternative selection of an area within the park.

The dog run proponents, based on the current chosen area, will continue the process needed to create the feature in the park. They need to raise the money to fence the tract, including any trees present, but the focus to modify use of the public park property will apparently be one which will not negatively impact the "bit of wild" bird habitats which remain to a small extent at Hanscom Park.

Area of the proposed dogrun.