Signs posted by City of Omaha officials only recently indicated public property adjacent to Levi Carter Park as a "natural wildlife area," and yet, within five weeks afterwards, the first action at the area was complete removal of many valuable trees.
Every tree, especially the willows, along the majority of the south side of the pond were cleared during the past week. Only one tree remained on a portion of the eastern side which was also cut-back.
The removal was done by a tree removal company which trims and obviously remove trees along powerlines, based upon a contract with the Omaha Public Power District.
The trees were cleared since some one had the opinion that they were too tall for the overhead powerline, though there had been no known issue or concern in this regard.
The area would have benefited from some selective trimming, but entire removal or more than a dozen trees is simply absurd and a travesty.
A natural area doesn't mean clear-cutting of the native vegetation, especially without any consideration of the property designation, and without any known notification or consultation with park management. The trees had provided nice habitat and also provided a natural visual barrier for traffic along adjacent Carter Boulevard.
On Saturday morning the 17th, there were limbs, portions of branches and other debris strewn about, with some within the pond water. To add insult to injury, some of the sawn limbs had been purposely shoved into two animal burrows.
About ten trips were required to move the debris elsewhere, and that was a pile to the south, within the park, and across the boulevard. This was necessary in an attempt to ensure eventual removal.
Obviously the men that cleared the area couldn't finish the job suitably with a proper, and thorough, cleanup! It was instead, a half-done effort by the company. Tree destruction gets lots of directed effort, but cleanup seems to be an arduous chore?
A couple of pieces of trash were also moved so they would get picked up, as was done by mid-afternoon. One of them was a window sash which had been along the train tracks, but was thrown from there, and into the adjacent grass. Were railroad men involved?
There is a known track record for trash removal from Union Pacific Railroad property here. It has been one of neglect, since the city had to remove trash from an adjacent parcel, because the railroad didn't make the effort. The only thing the railroad dealt with was the bill.
Disconcerting here during the past weeks has been the dead vegetation due to personnel from the Union Pacific Railroad spraying herbicide on the park property, adjacent to their limited right-of-way. There were also at least two saplings which had been destroyed through the use of some equipment to push at them until they broke over.
Illegal spraying was done several feet onto the city property, and adjacent to where the natural wildlife area sign is posted. It appears that the over-zealous railroad workers had an especial issue with the thistle growth here.
After the effort to get this bit of green-space recognized as city property, then to get illegal motor vehicles excluded, and then have it given recognition as a natural habitat in mid-July, to see the area cleared was more than disappointing.
This tree-cutting raises a greater issue... What might happen next? How will the area be managed in a manner which reflects its character and designation? Further degradation or encroachment needs to be prevented.
Tree debris left in the natural area pond by the Omaha Public Power District contractor.
The south side of the natural area pond showing where the most extensive tree destruction occurred.
Stump remnants, indicating the size of the destroyed trees.
Dead vegetation due to spraying done associated with the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way.
Perspective showing where the tree clear-cutting occurred.
Pile of tree debris personally removed from the area.