Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Caltrans biologist and maintenance crews hatch plan to protect bird(s)

Inspecting tree for bird nestCaltrans Biologist (yes, we have biologists too) Francis Appiah inspected a bird nest Caltrans tree crews spotted while removing diseased, dead, and dying trees along the Glendale Freeway (SR-2) in Echo Park (Los Angeles) last week.

Working in partnership with Caltrans road maintenance and electricians, Appiah was given a “lift” in a hydraulic lift so he could get a better view of the nest. 

“Going up was one of the greatest experiences,” said Appiah, “I was fascinated that the nest had eggs.” 

Appiah is not sure what type of bird was going to hatch, but he was emphatic that it was a good call by the tree crew to contact him before proceeding. 

The tree crew will cut the dying tree down after Appiah has returned to ensure the birds have moved on. 

During nesting season Caltrans biologists survey maintenance and construction zones to ensure that crews do not cause any impacts on nesting birds (previous blog:  Caltrans Buffers Birds) in compliance with the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. 

Why were the crews removing trees?

As part of the Governor’s
California Tree Mortality Taskforce, Caltrans is removing thousands of diseased, dead, and dying trees along state highways and freeways. 

These trees can fall onto nearby buildings or onto active freeways. 

Now in the fifth year of a severe drought, California trees have been put under an incredible strain. Tens of millions of trees have died during the drought and state and federal resource agencies and universities say tens of millions more are in danger.  

Starved of water, many trees are weakened and can’t fight off invasive pests. Trees are unable to secrete sticky resin to combat bark beetle infestations, while wood-boring beetles (the Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer and Gold Spotted Oak Borer) have infested sycamores and many other varieties of trees, posing a threat to avocado trees and other segments of California agriculture.

Caltrans Public Information Officer Rick Estrada explains how his part of the state is responding to tree mortality: