Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The meadow

It is 6 degrees with a wind chill of -11 as I type this (25 MPH wind gusts will do that!). Driving was not much fun this morning, but was somewhat better in the afternoon. Today was a day off from running, so instead I will give an update on the tree planting project in the meadow of my local park.

Over the last couple of weeks, I had conversations with Three Rivers Park District officials, including the public affairs coordinator, as well as the Commissioner who represents my district. They put me in touch with the forestry manager overseeing the project. I learned more about what is going on, and feel much better as a result.

A shot of the meadow in a nicer season

Upon further review, they decided to leave a large section of the meadow as is out of respect for some of the species currently living here - most notably the resident eagles. Input was sought from their wildlife staff before planting the whole area, and they collectively decided to scale back the planting significantly, not wishing to disturb their nesting site. Also, this will leave a nice vista overlooking the pond area. No further planting will occur south and west of the area currently planted, which is the location I was most concerned about. So this is great news, and a huge section of this land will remain as excellent habitat for the sedge wrens, as well as eastern bluebirds, tree swallows, ring-necked pheasants, and the like.

From last winter - pheasant tracks on the trail in the meadow

It still isn’t clear to me if they were entirely aware of the sedge wrens and the other species that were out there (from my numerous conversations, they certainly are now!), or when the decision was made to scale back. It does seem like this was reconsidered after the project had started, otherwise there would have been no reason to mow as much as they did. The important thing is that they brought in the right people to discuss and made decisions based on that input before moving forward. So, all is well that ends well. The birds I was concerned about will still have a nice habitat to call home. Plus, through the conversation with the forestry manager, I did learn how this planting could help enhance the area and strike a balance to benefit other species, as well as those species currently living there (apparently, these “big woods” conservation efforts help to create the greatest amount of biodiversity, which is also good).

Also of note, everyone I spoke with at the Three Rivers Park District was great. All of the people I had contact with were knowledgeable, professional, thoughtful, and helpful. And they expressed genuine interest in, and appreciation for, my concerns. Not something you generally expect from a government funded entity, so that was refreshing! And they really do maintain a beautiful park system. If you are even in the Twin Cities, I would highly encourage you to check out their parks and trails.

Of course, I am looking at drifting snow in my yard, but I am already looking forward to my birds coming home in the spring! And I am thankful that they still will have a place to come home to.

Until next time,

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