Friday, April 20, 2007

Katrina Debris Removal Continues

For the past 3 weeks, since April 4th, we have been enduring another Katrina debris removal project on the Tchefuncte River. We have been cooperative by letting the sub-contractor use our little road through the woods, but we have still lost some healthy native trees and shrubs as well as some things that we planted. The Tchefuncte is protected under the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act as well as a Federal Clean Rivers Act, but the parish council has renewed an emergency order each month since it was enacted soon after Hurricane Katrina.

The NRCS representatives assure us that the project is completed on our property and will soon be completed on the rest of the Tchefuncte River. What concerns us is that all of this noise, disturbance of the vegetation and felling of dead trees during the spring nesting season will have an adverse effect on the wildlife which was already decimated by Katrina. The Prothonotary Warblers, whose numbers have been decreasing due to habitat loss, are beginning to nest in hollow trees and nest boxes all along the river. The 6 different species of woodpeckers that nest on our property have already hollowed out their nesting cavities and are raising young. We know that some damage must be done when heavy equipment is used, but the timing of this project is terrible. Why couldn't this have been done during the late winter?

Near the end of April, it all comes to a head. We find out that the contractor in charge of all of the crews wants to destroy our land like he did the neighbors, so we go into action and call the NRCS. The damage is revealed and a cease & desist order is given for the whole project, but first for our property. Penalties & criminal charges are being discussed. Click here to see photos of some of the damage that the riparian areas of the Tchefuncte River sustained.

Mean while in the habitat, Carolina chickadees fledge about 19 young in 5 successful nests. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds raised 5 young. A pair of Carolina Wrens fledges 4 young from the nest they built in the large flower pot near the front door. The male wren is very distinctive because of his white tail and wing feathers. One pair of Prothonotary warblers build a nest in a box near the river and lay 5 eggs.

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