[va-richmond-general] Re: Ballpark plan would require removal of trees where martins roost - RTD article
- From: "Jim Blowers" <jimvb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: <deannamail@xxxxxxx>, <va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 08:12:42 -0400
I find it surprising that in all these discussions about building a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom, absolutely no one has brought up the problem of the purple martins, until now. It took martins, not baseball teams, to get people and the media to recognize the problem. Yet another reason why a ballpark should not be built in Shockoe Bottom. If a ballpark is built there, the martins will leave for somewhere else, and Richmond will go the way of the Memphis Redbirds. The festival (?) then will be "Gone to the Ballpark". Jim Blowers _____ From: va-richmond-general-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:va-richmond-general-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of deannamail@xxxxxxx Sent: Monday, 2009 June 15 07:01 To: va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; va-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [va-richmond-general] Ballpark plan would require removal of trees where martins roost - RTD article June 15, 2009 Ballpark plan would require removal of trees where martins roost By Rex Springston, Richmond Times-Dispatch No one knows if people will flock to Shockoe Bottom to watch baseball. But we do know that purple martins flock there in summer. And that could be a problem. As it stands, the proposal for a minor-league ballpark in the Bottom would require the cutting of all, or nearly all, the trees in which the colorful birds roost by the thousands. The 20 Bradford pears line the west side of North 17th Street between East Franklin and East Grace streets. "The existing trees on the west side of 17th Street will likely have to go during construction," said Peter Boisseau, a spokesman for Shockoe Center, the project that would include the ballpark. It's possible that some trees on the south end of the block could be saved, and overall the project calls for planting many more trees than it would destroy, Boisseau said. The trees used by the birds extend from a spot just outside of what would be the entrance of the ballpark -- a place where new trees are planned -- along a line that ends roughly where second base would go. If the city approves the project, phase one of Shockoe Center, the part that includes the park, would open in April 2012 after about two years of construction, Boisseau said. From late June to early September, the martins darken the Shockoe Bottom sky at dusk and then swoop into the pear trees, just a few feet over people who turn out to watch them. On July 26, 2008, nearly 1,000 adults and children jammed 17th Street for a purple-martin festival, "Gone to the Birds," organized by businesspeople, city officials and bird lovers. A second festival is scheduled July 25 from 6 to 9 p.m., city officials say. Among other attractions, restaurants again will sell "purple martinis," and martin aficionados will chat with visitors at booths. Asked about the ballpark's effect on the migrating martins, city spokesman Michael Wallace said: "As we move along, that's going to be something we will review. We want to try to do everything we can to ensure that we can continue to have those purple martins come back to Richmond each year." Possible options include modifying the ballpark plan, Wallace said. "Every option is open at this point." In a brief interview, Mayor Dwight C. Jones said the city is moving slowly on the Shockoe Center proposal in order to examine its pluses and minuses. As for its impacts on the martins, Jones said, "it's certainly something we want to consider." The martins stop over in the Bottom and build their flock before resuming their migration to Brazil. Their numbers peak in late July and early August. About 8,000 to 10,000 martins dropped in last summer. If their trees were cut, the birds may move to some neighborhood where they aren't wanted, said Mike Wilson, a biologist with the Center for Conservation Biology, part of the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University. The beauty of the Bottom, Wilson said, is it's an accessible place for people to watch the martins. If the birds can't find a good place to roost, they would be exposed to hawks and other predators, Wilson said. But most probably would survive to continue the migration. "I guess the disappointing thing is we just can't find space for them," Wilson said. It's a mystery why the birds chose to roost in the Bottom amid people, cars and trains. Part of the answer, Wilson believes, is that those old trees are so leafy they can hide the big flock completely at night. It's also unclear when the flights to Richmond began, but people first reported the birds in large numbers in 2007. The martins came here suddenly, perhaps after encountering problems at some other spot, Wilson said. They just as easily could decide to leave on their own. As to whether the birds will return, Wilson said, "it's a gamble every year."
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- » [va-richmond-general] Ballpark plan would require removal of trees where martins roost - RTD article - deannamail
- » [va-richmond-general] Re: Ballpark plan would require removal of trees where martins roost - RTD article - Jim Blowers