08 October 2013

Clearing Destroys Habitat at West Omaha Park

An article in the local newspaper on Friday, October 4th indicated another example of a limited perspective by officials of the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property department. Apparently because of public request, a meeting was held to discuss what was to happen at One Pacific Place Park, regarding the complete clearing of vegetation associated with a key habitat feature of the place along the Big Papillion Creek.

The clearing occurred during mid-September, based upon details which could be determined. An actual date of occurrence would be preferred as it would mark a date of destruction.

A personal call to the office of the mayor of Omaha, on Friday, October 4th asking for specific details, did not provide any information of interest regarding a site plan, a schedule for further work, sorts of plants to be planted, etc.

A visit was made to the park the next day on Saturday, which conveyed quite a paradoxical situation. An interpretive sign promotes various features of the local flora and fauna, while the perspective is nothing more than a few trees and an otherwise barren landscape of worthless turf grass.

The newspaper article indicated that a wetland and prairie were to be established at this place. The obvious question is when?

There are also other pertinent points:

Why is vegetation cleared in September, pending earth work weeks later? The apparent time-frame reflects a obvious lack of attention to details. Why is vegetation cleared weeks before any earth-moving effort? When will vegetation be planted to replaced what was cleared. For how many months will the vegetative cover be gone?
The focus appears to be schedule something to get done, and then schedule the next thing, without any regard to important considerations such as native flora, use of the site by migratory birds, and continuance of the natural features that may have been associated with the site.

There is obviously some ignorance regarding vital values being lost, as obvious at One Pacific Place Park. Consider: vegetation cleared in September, earthwork sometime late in the year, an unknown time when seeds will be planted by at this time of the year nothing will grow until next year. If, and that is a big if, seeds are in place to suitably grow next spring, there might be some plant cover by May or early next summer.

Considering the dearth of natural settings within urban Omaha, any little haven can be appreciated by migratory wildbirds. The vegetative cover at this park could have been a place enjoyed during the autumn migration, potentially during the winter season, and maybe as a temporary stop-over site next spring.

Decisions by Omaha Parks department staff obviously exclude any of these opportunities, because of their ignorance or perhaps worse, their indifference, but seemingly it is a lack of knowledge due to ignorance because of a lack of knowledge.

The whole scenario could might have been compressed into a very short time-frame next spring. Remove the current cover, work the ground and then immediately afterwards, spread the seeds for the new vegetation which could sprout with the arrival of the natural growing season.

Instead, the loss of flora and fauna will occur over a several month's long period. Based upon what the Parks Department has done, there is very little space left which might provide a haven for any of the animals indicated upon the sign. Denuding a habitat to a barren condition decimates whatever fauna had been present as their home is destroyed.

Skepticism is a word which applies in this situation, and only time will convey what will actually happen?