Bird sanctuary needs protection

June 24, 2008 6:02:49 PM PDT
It's a place for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts to enjoy the great outdoors without having to go outside the 610 Loop. Now, one homeowner fears a bird sanctuary in Memorial Park is in danger.

The sanctuary backs up to some homes on Glen Cove Street, right at the edge of the park. This is a battle that's been going on for several years. Residents living around the Hogg Park Bird Sanctuary were each told to stop mowing into the sanctuary behind their homes eight years ago because it destroys the natural habitat, but some have consistently ignored the regulations. One resident fears it could eventually destroy the park all together.

"Right now there are two red-headed woodpeckers nesting in the sanctuary and visit my bird feeder and they're incredible," said homeowner Katy Emde.

But Emde says the bird sanctuary that sits right behind her house is more than just a place where birds live.

She says when vines are pulled and leaves are raked, the moths can't eat. It's the same situation she says if the grass in the sanctuary is mowed. Starting at the bottom of the food chain all the way to the top, it cuts off food supply and places for insects and animals to nest.

"I would say in the last eight years the mowing has mowed down 500 tree seedling," she explained. "Twenty to 30 trees should have grown."

"The citizen we talked to this morning said his cut crew cut too close and we're going to take care of it," said Joe Truner of the parks and recreation department.

The parks department contends they do regularly monitor the park, but Emde says the department hasn't done anything to stop the mowing and she has taken her fight to city hall.

"The city's position up until now has been we have to enforce it, it has to be preserved, there are no exceptions," said city councilmember Pam Holms.

"I'll take look with the city attorney," said Mayor Bill White.

The question remains what are the rules for this bird sanctuary. According to the ordinance put in place in 1958, there are no specific rules as to how the sanctuary should be kept. As you heard, the mayor said he would look into it. I spoke with the Audubon Society which manages 18 sanctuaries and was told mowing grass like a lawn provides the least habitat for animals and insects.

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