Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I received a call on this day from my friend, colleague and fellow owl/park fan Chad Henry. He was making his way through the park and saw some work taking place in the waterway besides the nest tree. A work crew from the City of St. Louis Forestry Division was there and from Chad's perspective, it looked like they were working on removing the portion of the branch that had been ripped off of the the nest tree and fallen in the waterway. Knowing and sharing my concern for both the fallen portion of the branch and the rest of the tree, he kindly dialed me immediately. Getting my voicemail, he left a message but later stopped by my office to clarify what he saw.
I then called Chris Gerli to ask him if he was aware of the work being done. While Chris hadn't been by that area yet and did not anticipate getting over there any time soon, he was curious and anxious about what might happen to the tree.
I made a call to a contact of mine on staff with Forest Park Forever. My contact had seen the tree crew by the tree earlier but did not know exactly what they were going to do. I asked him if he could:
a) Communicate to the crew that the while the nest hollow was damaged the remainder of the branch and the tree could still prove useful to the owls and as such should not be chopped down nor should the remainder of the branch containing the hollow be removed.
b) Find out what they were going to do with the portion of the hollow that was in the water. I hoped that the hollow would remain in the water so that I could still show people the opening of the hollow. Also, I thought the portion of the hollow and the other branches in the water could act as a good basking site for turtles and frogs, among others.
c) If by any chance, could I have the portion of the hollow as a relic of this important site in the lives of Charles and Sarah and their offspring.
My contact was extremely gracious and stated he would do everything possible to safeguard the tree and that he would update me later that day. True to form he e-mailed me and let me know that:
a) the portion of the hollow that fell into the water had been removed from the water and chipped but that nothing else had been done to the tree and most likely would not as it would have occurred already
b) he spoke to his boss about the tree and that the supervisor of the Forest Park Forestry crew was aware that this tree was and still could be an important site for the owls
c) he, my contact, would let me know as he learned more about the tree and its prospects.
This assuaged my fears about the immediate and long-term prospects for this tree and for that and more, I am very grateful to my contact and his colleagues! Many thanks also to Chad Henry and Chris Gerli for their assistance and leads during this episode!
Still, it was sad to hear that the remains of the hollow were no more and I wish I had taken more photos and videos of the fallen portion of the hollow. Sadder still was the initial damage to the hollow. This hollow has been an important site for the owls and it is such a unique hollow. When conducting an owl prowl I have always shown people this hollow, even when the owls have not been using it, it was that unique and special.
I am curious and optimistic about what happens in the future with this tree but I know that a key aspect of it and its interaction with the owls is over completely.