A response to Ash Feeney
A few days ago I learned of a new policy from City staff concerning the 25 acres outside of Mace curve, aka Mace 25, prime farmland that was purchased with citizen tax dollars from the open space fund. According to this new policy, the City will not be mowing areas in which burrowing owls are already nesting, instead allowing the owls to be “naturally displaced from the site… by allowing tall dense vegetation to grow along the western edge.” By not mowing, the City will be “doing what it can to prevent the owls from using the site.” Burrowing owls prefer short grasses (e.g., native short prairie grass or grass that is kept short through mowing) so that they can see their predators coming, and they will leave an area if the grasses aren’t short.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, I along with a number of other citizens attended to protest this new policy and to ask the City Council to direct staff to promote burrowing owl habitat at that site. Burrowing owls, it should be noted, have been designated as a Species of Special Concern by the State of California, and their numbers have been declining dramatically over the past 10 years in the Davis area. No action was taken at the meeting, although I have since learned that at least one Councilmember is in favor of taking up this issue at a future meeting.
What did happen at the meeting was that Assistant City Manager Ash Feeney defended the new policy. He has apparently issued a statement summarizing his views, published on the Davis Vanguard (staff could not confirm this by the end of yesterday’s business day). Unfortunately, this response contains false and problematic statements.