To the editors,
In a recent letter, it was claimed that the Obama Presidential Center would pose no hazard to migrating birds. This is not true. We know the lakefront to be especially critical for migrating birds — this is the Great Lakes / Mississippi flyway. Further, Jackson Park is designated an "important wildlife habitat," as the natural character of the Park attracts wildlife.
The OPC features a central building 235 feet in height, directly up against this nature area. It is mostly covered in stone, opaque. Birds will collide with it. We know this thanks to Doppler radar, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who've been doing studies of these migratory routes for the last thirty years, or more.
Much migration goes on through the night. By the time the birds see this huge building it will be too late.
A number of birding groups have expressed their disappointment with this location, including the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. They are the group who goes out and rescues injured birds.
This is contradictory to what we've been striving to achieve with our nature areas: a safe, inviting habitat for wildlife.
The other issue omitted was the impact to the Park's trees. Between the OPC and road-widening projects, throughout the Park, some 800 to 1,000 trees will be removed. These are specimens measuring up to three feet in diameter. We will see replacement plantings going in, but these will be saplings, with a diameter of three inches.
The number of trees to be removed has also grown, due to the tower being moved north, as well as the underground garage now proposed. We don't know what impact that will have, because we don't even have an up-to-date inventory of trees in the entire park. It will take fifty years for the saplings to reach anything close to what we have now.
Ross Petersen, member, Protect Our Parks
Letters from the staff
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