Saving Wildlife and Wild Places 2016

Access digital copies of guides and regulations publications from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Issue link: http://digital.outdoornebraska.gov/i/636900

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5 By Joel Jorgenson, Nongame Bird Program Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Peregrine Falcon Project Success Continues any Nebraskans, as well as people throughout the world, log on to the Internet each spring to watch streaming video of the peregrine falcons nesting on the 18th Floor of the Nebraska Capitol. The same pair has nested and reared their young at the Capitol for more than a decade, and their biological investments are now paying off. The pair has fledged 22 young falcons since 2005. Over the past few years, several of their offspring have turned up in other cities and started to raise families of their own. Every bird's identity is known, because the young falcons are banded and named each spring. Boreas, banded in 2007, and Nemaha, banded in 2009, have nested at the Westar Energy building in Topeka, Kansas, since 2011. Mintaka, banded in 2010, has been the resident male at the Woodmen building in Omaha since 2012. Clark, banded in 2012, is half of the pair at Nebraska's newest nest site at the Omaha Public Power District's North Omaha Power Station. In 2015, the falcon pair at the Capitol produced one offspring, which was named "Orozco," in honor of slain Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco. The peregrine falcon project and streaming video are supported by funds from the Wildlife Conservation Fund. ✔ PHOTO BY MELISSA PANELLA an pe lo reaming video M M any people believe the intense wildfires of 2012 devastated large areas of the Pine Ridge forest. To determine how rare plant species fared, Steve Rolfsmeier, a botanist at Chadron State College, surveyed known populations of a variety of rare plants tracked by the Nebraska Natural Heritage Program. These populations had been inventoried in the 1990s, before the fires. Overall, most species tolerated the fires. Some species increased in abundance and others were negatively impacted, especially in areas where the fires were very intense. The species negatively impacted by fire included dwarf juniper, yellow stonecrop, false melic (a grass) and several species of pussytoes. Species that increased following fire included spreading dogbane and, not surprisingly, fireweed. One interesting find was pearly everlasting, which was found in a burned ravine. The plant is known to increase in response to fire in other parts of its range. This was the first record of this plant in Nebraska in more than 75 years. The plant species that appeared to be most heavily impacted by the 2012 fires fall into two categories: species of pine-wooded uplands, and fire-intolerant species of deciduous-wooded bottoms. Upland pine-dominated slopes that had a dense litter layer were the most transformed habitats following the fires. Many of these sites have lost much of their native vegetation. S ites with a dense litter layer may have had a low diversity and abundance of groundcover species before the fires. The most intensely burned areas were often invaded by exotic species such as cheatgrass, Canada thistle, mullein, and prickly lettuce. What has allowed many of the rare plants to persist is the fact that the fires were not uniformly intense but contained many areas with moderate to low fire intensity and even some unburned areas. Most of the Pine Ridge species can tolerate moderate to low intensity fire. This study will continue in the summer of 2016 with sampling in areas burned by the 2006 fires and in unburned areas. ✔ Rare Plants and Fire in the Pine Ridge PHOT PHOTO BY O BY MEL MELISSA ISSA PAN PANELLA ELLA Orozco the peregrine falcon, named to honor fallen police officer Kerrie Orozco. es Many of By Rick Schneider, Heritage Program Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission im in fi in n b d st m se p th fo in SPREADING DOGBANE FIREWEED

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