01 October 2012

Botanist Evalutes Unique Habitat at Omaha Park

A professor from the University of Nebraska at Omaha recently visited a meadow area at the west side of Levi Carter Park to evaluate its floristic features.

Thomas B. Bragg, a professor specializing in plant community and fire ecology in the department of Biology, provided the following comments:

"We visited the strip of vegetation that extends along the west side of Carter Lake Drive near where it enters Carter Lake Park from the southwest and found it to be a diverse plant community with the suite of woody and herbaceous grasses and forbs that characterize floodplain vegetation of the region. The vegetation is particularly well suited for the suite of birds and other animals that require wooded and seasonally wet areas. Given both the low plant diversity due to mowing throughout the park and the decreasing amount of natural habitat remaining throughout Omaha, this is one of those instances where retaining the naturalness of a location seems logical.

"In addition, and perhaps equally as important to some as its environmental value, is that the small strip provides a visual and acoustic barrier against the views and sounds of the industrial area and railroad track immediately to the west (see attached photo). Thus, this small strip of floodplain habitat allows visitors, whether interested in wildlife or in just escaping from the workaday world, to enjoy the park and lake and to do so relatively free from the distractions of urban landscape sights and sounds.

"Notably, retaining this strip as a natural area is consistent with the Environment Omaha recommendations for Omaha’s Master Plan that were adopted by the Omaha City Council in 2012."

North portion of the meadow area in the western section of Levi Carter Park.
Image courtesy of Thomas Bragg.

The park master plan shows the southern portion of this as a dog park.

The land use of the place may not change however.

"I understand that the issue of use of this area recently was brought before the Omaha Park Board and that the Board does not plan to recommend any changes to its current use," Bragg said in an email.