18 August 2011

Disc Course Users Violate Laws at Hummel Park

Miscreants associated with a "sanctioned purpose" have been willfully and blatantly breaking Omaha laws at Hummel Park. Their actions are dramatically degrading the park setting.

The purpose of the Omaha Metro Disc Golf Association is to establish a disc golf course upon the northern portion of the city of Omaha park. They have received permission to do this by the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property.

During a recent visit, it became obvious that disc golf miscreants violated laws of the city. A return visit to document the multitude of violations, easily and readily indicated a problem situation. Any of these actions at another city park would not be tolerated and strictly enforced, but there appears to be a different situation at Hummel Park.

The perpetrators have been:

1) Drinking alcohol in a park as obvious by the many beer cans strewn about nearly everywhere along the disc course route; drinking beer is not allowed in parks according to city statutes, as indicated by officials with the Omaha Police Department. There were indications of marijuana use, though this could not be confirmed.

2) Littering in a city park; the endless litter noted was in direct association with the disc golf course route

3) Marking more than 100 trees with arrows, dots and numbers, with each instance vandalism of city property; most of the markings were associated with indicating disc course directions, but some were made for no apparent reason

4) Spray painting graffiti on park features including benches, barricades and fallen trees

5) Excessively removing flora amongst a forest which is unique in the Omaha park system

6) Cutting down trees and other forest vegetation to provide an open fairway, which in several instances is excessive

7) Digging and moving soil to create golf tees, without any apparent effort to properly stabilize the soil to prevent future erosion

8) Establishing trail routes up steep slopes which will certainly erode, as no effort has been made to prevent erosional down-cutting

9) Moving soil and excavating hill slopes within an area known to have been used historically by native Indian tribes, with no evaluation survey done to avoid disturbance of artifact sites or other important heritage site; it should be noted that in past years, however, that city officials allowed construction of the hilltop shelter upon an Indian burial

10) Creating tee sites which were then subsequently abandoned, without any effort to return the spot to its previous, natural and vegetated condition.

Due to Missouri River flooding, any recent disc course work at the park has not occurred as the eastern access routes are blocked. This condition has allowed the park to be relatively undisturbed for several weeks, which was obvious on the date visited as a fine variety of birdlife was appreciated while documenting the abhorrent conditions associated with the disc course.

These are just the obvious items presented in a summary fashion as determined during a close inspection of the disc course route conducted August 17, 2011. Parking was possible at the lot on the north side of the park, along Ponca Road. There were no signs to indicate the park was closed. Nearby, workers were actively constructing the new nature center building.

Disc Golf Perps

This is a summary of those items which were obvious violations of city law, and a few other notable problems. Each instance is based upon a multi-hour, morning visit on August 17, 2011. A photograph was taken of each of numbered items which included a similarly numbered index card to indicate the item of interest. Any mentions of markings upon a tree is based upon spray paint placed upon a live tree, unless otherwise noted.

Disc Golf Hole # 1
#1 - trash by excavated tee
#2 - no. 1 arrow on bur oak tree
#3 - trash
#4 - trash pile along the stepway, along with other separate trash items
#5 - bullseye on tree at the bottom of the steps
Hole #2
#6 - number 2 and arrow on dead bur oak tree
#7 - pizza box sign placed along the trail to the next tee
#8 - smiley face upon tree
#9 - number 2 on walnut tree
#10 - trash container with beer cans, indicating illegal drink in the city park
#11 - number 2 on black locust tree
The course route then goes up a steep slope, subject to increased erosion as the cover vegetation has been cut to the nubbins.
#12 - arrow on dying walnut tree
#13 - trash along fairway which goes straight down a ravine, and since the vegetation has been cutaway, will be subject to increased erosion
#14 - the word "revolt" spray-painted on a hackberry tree
Hole #3
#15 - number 3 painted on a bur oak tree
#16 - pile of trash at tee dug out of a hillside, with no effort made to stabilize the soil to prevent erosion
#17 - more than 12 trees removed to create an open fairway
#18 - "420" graffiti on park bench
#19 - 420 graffiti on a nearby park bench
#20 - trash pile near park bench
#21 - arrow on tree indicating route to next tee
#22 - number 4 plus arrow to next tee spray-painted on a tree
#23 - two arrows indicating route to the next hole
#24 - arrow to tee for hole no. 4 painted on cottonwood tree at start of exercise trail
#25 - arrow to hole no. 4 on tree
#26 - no. 4 and arrow on walnut tree
#27 - no. 4 and arrow on hickory tree
#28 - no. 4 and arrow on tree

This is the same place where the city of Omaha forester marked numbers on more than 50 walnut trees in order to get a count of their occurrence. Perhaps the disc golf "gang" thought that if the city would spray numbers on trees, they could put whatever markings they wanted on trees as well. As an aside, in carefully considering the walnut trees along Ponca Creek, there were a number of unmarked walnut trees, so the city county was not thorough.

Hole #4
#29 - trash pile at the tee, with other pieces of trash nearby
#30 - word graffiti painted upon a tree snag at the tee
#31 - arrow and dot on a tree
#32 - arrow on tree
Hole #5
#33 - arrow painted on tree
#34 - bullseye on walnut tree
#35 - arrow on walnut tree
#36 - arrow painted on tree along Ponca Creek
Hole #6
#37 - beer bottles at tee

There were few arrows on trees in this vicinity, so it took a close reconnaissance to determine the route of the course, which here includes walking along Ponca road. There are a couple of walkways placed across Ponca Creek, which will, based on natural indications of flooding, be readily washed away by a high-water event.

Hole #7
#38 - beer can trash at tee plus other beer cans nearby
#39 - trash at no. 7 hole
#40 - steps cut in creek bank along the route to the next tee; this will result in erosion as the vegetative cover has been removed
Hole #8
#41 - trash at tee included beer cans plus other similar trash nearby
#42 - letter A painted on a walnut tree
#43 - the course route goes straight up the bluff, obviously creating the potential for erosion as vegetative cover has been removed; also, trash nearby
#44 - (skipped)
#45 - arrow painted on tree by course hole
#46 - multiple lines of paint upon a young hackberry tree near the hole
#47 - arrow pointing to next tee
#48 - an arrow on two different bur oak trees
Hole #9
#49 - big cut in hillside to create tee, with no efforts to stabilize the soil
#50 - bullseye on tree snag along the "fairway" cut through the woods
#51 - arrow on tree snag
#52 - arrow on linden tree pointing the direction to the next hole
Hole #10
#53 - arrow painted on tree
#54 - pile of trash at tee
#55 - bullseye painted on live tree
#56 - set of two trees with an arrow on each of them
#57 - arrow on tree at hole, pointing to the next tee
#58 - arrow on tree at hole, pointing to the next tee
#58 - arrow pointing to next tee painted on bur oak with virginia creeper vine,
Hole #11
#60 - trash container with multiple beer cans, indicating the illegal consumption of beer in a city park
#61 - 11s on two adjacent trees
#62 - bulls-eye on northern red oak along the fairway for the hole
Two spray-painted dots on trees along the way were noted but not photographed.
#63 - no. 12 and arrow painted on tree to indicate the way to the next tee
#64 - no. 12 and arrow on tree to indicate direction of the next tee
#65 - arrow on bur oak along the obvious trail to the next tee
#66 - arrow on tree along obvious trail to next tee
#67 - arrow on tree along obvious trail to next tee
#68 - arrow on tree along obvious trail to next tee
#69 - arrow on tree snag along obvious trail to next tee
#70 - arrow on tree along obvious trail to next tee

These arrows were painted on trees a short distance apart, and there were more than six arrows desecrating the trees within a distance of less than one hundred yards along an obvious trail.

Hole #12
#71 - no. 12 painted on tree at tee
#72 - no. 12 painted on hackberry tree by tee, and very close to the previous item
#73 - arrow on tree along fairway
#74 - arrow painted on bur oak along fairway
#75 - bullseye painted on hackberry tree along the course route which has had emergent vegetation cut-away
#76 - arrow painted on tree along course route
#76 - arrow painted on tree along course route
#78 - arrow at course hole pointing direction to next tee
Hole #13
#79 - arrow painted on hackberry tree by tee
#80 - arrow painted on walnut tree by tee
#81 - beer cans in trash container by tee
#82 - no. 13 painted on tree
#83 - bullseye painted on tree along course route
#84 - arrow painted on tree along course route
#85 - arrow on tree past hole pointing the direction to the next tee
#86 - arrow pointing the way to the next tee, a few feet away, sprayed upon a massive bur oak - a grand tree arboreal specimen along the park road -

This desecration of a tree is similar to the abhorrent painting of numbers on the splendid walnut trees along Ponca Creek, as done by the forester of the City of Omaha, earlier in the spring.

Hole #14
#87 - no. 14 painted on tree at tee
#88 - bullseye painted on tree along the course route
#89 - arrow and no. 15 painted on barricade to prevent vehicular access to an unused roadway
A dot was painted on six trees along the hillside trail to the next tee site.
Hole #15
#90 - extensive excavation of hillside to create a tee, with no effort made to prevent erosion
#91 - arrow painted on tree along the fairway; along with a nearby discarded beer can
#92 - big dot painted on tree along the course route
Beer can among naturally occurring tree fall, a short distance from the course "hole"
#93 - arrow on tree pointing the direction to the next tee.
Hole #16
#94 - dot on tree at 16th tee
Also a dot on a tree along the course route.
#95 - arrow painted on tree at hole pointing to the next tee; three trees along the subsequent route were marked with dots of spray paint
Hole #17
#96 - beer can and excavated tee space
#97 - arrow painted on tree along the trail to the next tee
Hole #18
#98 - multitude of beer cans in trash container, once again indicating the illegal consumption of beer in a city park
Five trees along the course route are then marked with spray-painted dots.
#99 - site excavated to provide a tee - with the flags present at other excavations still extant - but now obviously not being used for this purpose; no effort made to restore the site to its previous natural condition. There was trash at the site.

Nearby, along the cleared route of the course, the burrow of an animal native to the park had been abandoned, probably because of disturbance - including clearing with chain saws, noise, and moving deadfall - as observed on a previous visit. The obvious burrow entrance was partially to mostly covered with a spider web, indicating a lack of current use.

#100 - arrow on tree along the course route to the final disc course hole on the hilltop near the picnic shelter and associated constructs

Thus is the tally of obvious violations of the laws of the city of Omaha.

These pictures are examples of conditions noted in the park.

Graffiti drawn on a tree. This is obvious vandalism.

Beer cans indicating illegal drinking and left piled in the forest.

Multiple lines needlessly drawn upon a live tree.

Bullseye and two arrows in very close proximity.

Beer cans indicating illegal drinking and other trash.

One Gang for Another

During previous discussions with the disc course guys, people of the neighborhood and city officials, the goal was to increase use of the park to get rid of an undesirable "gang influence."

Based upon the present findings, one "gang" may be gone but another has taken its place.

Some of the disc course users are obviously doing more damage - short-term and long-term - to the park environs, regularly participating in illegal activities and otherwise reducing the quality of the park space. Efforts to create this course should be stopped and work thus far removed and conditions returned to previous situation.

It is obvious that the disc course people cannot obey city laws and are destroying a natural resource unique to the Omaha residents. Any special interest group should not be allowed to destroy something for their own particular interest. This group does not deserve any special "city sanction" for their aberrant effort as they cannot act responsibly.

Also, every effort possible should be taken to determine the "perps" that have been active in Hummel Park, and cite them as applicable. This effort should include prevention of any further violations of city laws.

The preferred alternative would be to end the disc course effort completely. It should be placed somewhere where it will not cause the unneeded destruction of a unique natural resource by miscreants breaking the law.