08 September 2013

Scouts Improve Heron Haven - Autumn Festival Pending

Boy Scouts and friends were busy about Heron Haven Wetland on September 7th doing projects to get the natural area ready for an autumn festival next weekend. Several efforts being done to improve the nature sanctuary for the pending festival, included:

  • Cleaning up around the nature center;
  • Restaining the kiosk and some benches along the trails;
  • Widening a bridge and providing a hand-rail; and
  • Replacing the fence at the dragonfly pond.

Two Eagle scout candidates, and supporters along with others of Boy Scout Troop 395, were instrumental in getting the tasks done. Twin brothers Micah Waskowiak and Erick Waskowiak were doing the public service as a part of the requirements to receive the highest rank achievable by a Boy Scout. Helpers included their older brother, Justin Waskowiak (already an Eagle scout) and proud father Eldon Waskowiak.

Justin Waskowiak sawing lumber for a project.

This effort is greatly appreciated by Ione Werthmann, the matriarch of the haven, which she was instrumental in getting established 22 years ago.

Ione Werthmann and Erick Waskowiak at the nature center, discussing a project.

"I really appreciate the work today, as it so significantly improves our sanctuary!" she said, also noting that there have already been 35 Eagle scout projects done at the area.

Replacing the fence at the dragonfly pond.

The Heron Haven Wetland Festival on Saturday afternoon September 14th from 1 to 5:30 p.m., is an opportunity to celebrate the splendors of this 25-acre wetland in urban Omaha.

It is the big event of the year for the haven, at 118th and Old Maple Road, in western Omaha.

Events will include a close look at wildlife as presented by "Wildlife Encounters" at 2 p.m. At 4 p.m., live raptors will be shown by people from Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery. This will include an close look at wild birds of prey.

Other events are also scheduled to occur during the afternoon. Free prizes, admission and refreshments will be available.

A final highlight of the day will be a butterfly release at 5:30 p.m. of the butterflies which had been kept within a tent for a close look by visitors, and which will then be released into the wild.

The wetland festival sponsored by the Friends of Heron Haven. Members of the board of this organization will be present during the day to help, and to answer any questions about the sanctuary.

The event will be opportunity to continue to celebrate the special features of this urban nature haven, which most significantly has seen a recent renovation of the marsh, and improvements to the nature center.

Following the completion of the wetland renovation project during the summer of 2012, disturbed native vegetation has regrown this season. During recent months, the deeper wetland has become a place for previously unseen waterfowl to visit, including diving ducks such as the Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Canvasback and Common Goldeneye. Other new additions to the site's bird list include the Sora and Virginia Rail.

In the spring, Werthmann was excited to make her own addition to the tally. A different looking dove was present at the nature center, and she eventually determined that it was a White-winged Dove, species number 158 for Heron Haven. Since then, the Clay-colored Sparrow has also been added. Many other species occur among the waters and woodlands, and the site bird list includes 159 species.

A new heating and cooling system has just been installed for the nature center. The Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District, which owns the property, paid the cost. Propane is no longer required.

Presently, numerous flowers with their exquisite colors are blooming beautifully in the Butterfly Garden. Native grass species are ripe with seeds in the area where they have been planted.

It's a grand time to visit Heron Haven!