04 October 2013

Natural Woodland Settings Destroyed at Omaha Parks

A second instance of the destruction of wild flora features at an Omaha park was recently revealed.

Development work at Pacific Springs Park has recently removed an extensive amount of vegetation from what had been called a "wilderness area."

During a public-meeting of the Omaha Parks Advisory Board on October 3rd, a SID board representative and a associate from an architectural firm gave a presentation regarding proposed changes to occur within the park at 174th and Pacific Streets.

Numerous pictures were shown, and a couple including a before and after perspective of the wooded area. The "wilderness area" of more than one acre had been a woodland with typical understory vegetation, including shrubs and other representative native flora were completely obliterated. The tract was transformed into an area of large trees and turf mowable grass, and there were mulch trails added to what was called a "remote area."

The SID board cleared the woodland since it was "not usable by the public," said a board representative at the meeting, upon being asked this question outside the meeting room.

At other areas of the park, the SID is considering adding "ornamental landscaping" or something which is a "cultured landscape," according to terminology used by a Parks Board member. This artificial vegetation would be installed by some company. There were no details indicated in regards to the type of plant species.

This park is owned by the Pacific Springs Sanitary Improvement District 398, but must comply with city of Omaha requirements since it is within a three-mile zone of jurisdiction.

Northeast extent of Levi Carter Pond
September 8, 2013.

The other instance of this sort, besides what happened at the Northwest Pond Natural Habitat Area at Levi Carter Park, is the setting at Levi Carter Pond, just to the south.

The contractor hired by Omaha Public Works Department cleared vegetation at both sites. At the south pond, there were a number of trees and unique shrubs removed along the eastern portion of the pond, apparently on September 7th.

When an onsite meeting occurred a few days later, an official of the Parks Recreation and Public Works department said there would be no effort to replace the removed trees and shrubs.

The removal of the greenery significantly reduced the value of the pond to migratory birds, especially because of the loss of the visual barrier, as well as foraging habitat that is not to be valuable for many neotropical migrants.

The cleared area would be planted to turf grasses, and be mowed on a regular basis, as part of a "beautification" project.

This setting would rely upon the natural vegetation remaining upon the western extent of the pond, as the Parks department intent would not anything of beauty to the scene except barren turf, mowing machine exhaust and noise, along with other disturbances.

Both of these situations are convey, now, a recurring theme prevalent in Omaha parks. Remove the natural vegetation and its unique diversity, and replace it with a monoculture of some sort of turf grass, and then ensure that it is mowed multiple times during the growing season. The stormwater parks also are somewhat guilty in this respect, especially at Spring Lake Park.

Each of these actions convey a myopic perspective, ignorant of any multiple-use perspective to protect unique flora and fauna.

Here is another example as conveyed in regards to One Pacific Place Park, as reported in the local newspaper on October 4th.