15 January 2015

OPPD Habitat Destruction and Threats to Wildbirds?

This is an email which was sent to the Nebraska Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order for initiate an investigation of this situation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also been asked to clarify the situation at the Mandan Flats, in order to determine if the expectant vegetative clearing will impact the status of the wetlands and brooks on this property owned by the citizens of the City of Omaha.

This is a request that the FWS investigate the continual habitat destruction by the Omaha Public Power District. At least 200 miles of corridor are cleared on an annual basis, and done during all months of the year, according to information provided by the utility.

If there is any vegetation beneath the powerlines during the time when birds are breeding, it is more than likely that there is the potential destruction of bird nests, eggs and young. The clearing effort, as personally seen, involves the nearly complete removal of vegetation. What remains is just the ground cover, with a height of less than an inch. There are several species which appreciate the area of particular concern, the Mandan Flats along the Missouri River, just east of Mandan Park. This is City of Omaha property, owned by the citizens.

This is just a small space of special interest whereas OPPD is so completely involved in removing vegetation on large extents of land.

Any destruction of birds nests, eggs or young is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The FWS needs to investigate this situation and make sure there are no violations, or how the public utility is aware of and addressing any potential concerns.

By the way, the state of Nebraska has a somewhat similar law regarding how it is illegal to destroy bird eggs or nests, so perhaps their law enforcement officials should be involved as well?