Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Destruction Continues, but the FNPS brings hope

Apparently we spoke too soon. What we thought was the culmination of the storm debris removal project from the creek was just a 3 day siesta. The heavy equipment, chain saws and machetes came back with a vengeance and went deeper into the woods. Countless more live trees were scarred and damaged when the ones that were broken by Hurricane Katrina were pulled out of the stream. The smell of diesel fuel permeates the once fresh air while our eardrums are pummeled with the sound of the giant chipper / shredder machine. The trail (more like road) that they carved through the forest by the creek is wider that the creek in most places. What is really being achieved by this project? The healthy trees & shrubs that they are damaging or destroying could have absorbed hundreds of gallons of rain water. The parish would be better served if restrictions for new building that included raised houses instead of red clay fill and cement slabs were enforced in low, wetland & flood zone areas.

Here are some statistics that were compiled by the LSU AgCenter that say a lot:

Tree Facts: The Benefits of Trees

  • In a forest area only 10% of rainwater leaves the site.
  • Just 10% impervious area (like concrete) doubles the amount of water leaving the site.
  • A 30% tree canopy can reduce city storm water by 14%.
  • American Forests estimates that the nation’s trees are worth $400 billion per year in storm water management alone.
  • On a lighter note, the Folsom Native Plant Society’s meeting at the Covington Public Library last night had excellent attendance and featured a wonderful presentation by native plant experts, Latimore Smith (Director of TNC Science & Stewardship) and Nelwyn McInnis, The Nature Conservancy Florida Parishes Director. We were treated to a history of the Longleaf Pine forests that once covered all of St. Tammany Parish. We also learned about the 19 species of rare native plants that are preserved within TNC St. Tammany Parish properties. The FNPS is growing in numbers and we are trying to reach the public, especially those that are new to the North Shore, to teach them about the value of our native flora.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Ruby Throat Hummingbird Migration, Kingfisher and Habitat Destruction

    Linda and I banded ruby throated hummingbirds this morning. This is fall migration and a new wave came in ahead of the little cold front. This morning was our best in many months with 34 new captures. There were several females, adult males and many immature males. On our walk to the river we saw a Belted Kingfisher dive into the water after a fish.

    The St. Tammany Parish / NRCS stream debris removal and destruction project seems to be coming to an end by our property. They agreed to stop before our property line thus saving a large area of important hummingbird breeding and nesting habitat.

    We weren’t so lucky with the new neighbor who bought the land across the river and who just finished bulldozing hundreds of native shrubs and trees all along the Tchefuncte. Now bare dirt that will be susceptible to soil erosion is where wild blueberries / Huckleberries (Vaccinium spp.), native azaleas, strawberry bushes and arrow-wood viburnums full of fruit once stood. Over 30 different species of birds and many mammals could have used that fruit since Katrina had already destroyed so much of the food supply and habitat. We are also concerned about the hit that the fish and other organisms in the river will take when the rains and resulting yearly winter & spring floods wash the soil from the bare land into it.