Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Station 5 Receives Wildlife Habitat Designation

Station 5 recently became the first station to obtain wildlife habitat status under the City's new program that was initiated earlier this year. It joins Stations 39 and 43, which were previously in the designation process. The effort at Station 5 was spearheaded by C-shift Lt. David Lundstedt and accomplished using donated items, along with the $150 allowance from the department. The station was challenged last year to get the certification by former 5-C firefighter Mayor Pro-tem Mike Martinez, and Lundstedt, who had recently had his home designated, took on the challenge.

“I brought up an old pond liner and pump I wasn’t using at home and that served as the required water source,” says Lundstedt. “I handed my then-probie T.J. Rogers a shovel and told him to dig which made the entire process much easier.”

HEB Central Market then pitched in with mulch, a bird feeder, and bird seed for one of the required food sources. Lundstedt then spent the city allowance purchasing native plants, goldfish, more mulch and a hummingbird feeder. He also installed a compost pile in the rear of the station to reduce the amount of trash deposited and to someday use as fertilizer for the native plants.

“Using natives makes the entire area virtually maintenance free,” says Lundstedt. “I installed a misting nozzle on a garden hose which keeps the pond full so all I do now is fill the bird feeder and the rest takes care of itself.”

Alice Nance with Austin Parks and Recreation Department's Wildlife Austin program paid a visit to Station 5 and after making some suggestions, declared the project a success. What was once a weed-infested flowerbed by the front door has been transformed into an urban oasis, teeming with birds and other wildlife, which come to enjoy the new area on a daily basis.

"I would encourage every station to take this on,” says Rogers who has since transferred to Station 15. “If we can do this right in the heart of east Austin, then any station should be able to do it.”

(Many thanks to Lt. Lundstedt for the story and pictures, below.)