Falcons Preventing the Demolition of Warren Hall
February 21, 2013
Bird calls and sirens blare from the top of the soon to be demolished Warren Hall in an attempt to deter a bird species from nesting on it’s sheer face.
A pair of American Peregrine Falcons has nested on the 9th and 10th floors for two consecutive years, taking advantage of the condemned, abandoned building, according to Ellen Woodward, professor of Geography and Environmental Studies.
Woodward adds that if nesting occurs, the demolition, which was scheduled for Feb. 13, will need to be further delayed until the end of the nesting season.
The project manager for the Warren Hall Replacement, Christopher Wallace reiterates the same concern with a different tone.
“While the Falcons are no longer an endangered species they remain a protected species by various California law. If the Falcons were to lay their eggs on Warren Hall this season, February or March, it would directly impact the Warren Hall [Replacement] Project,” Wallace said. “Naturally, we hope our falcon friends choose otherwise.”
The falcons are classified as a “fully protected species,” a designation by the California Department of Fish and Game to provide additional protection when they are removed from the endangered species list, according to their website.
“The Peregrine Falcon was one of the first birds to be placed on California’s Endangered Species List. In 1970, the population in the state was listed at just five pairs,” according to the Audubon Society.
After being placed on the list the falcon’s species made a significant recovery. The Audubon Society explains that with the efforts of government agencies and non-profit organizations there are more than 300 active breeding sites 38 years later.
Two weeks before the demolition was set to take place, a qualified biologist inspected the area of Warren Hall and the surrounding 500 feet, to ensure the falcons are not nesting. The sirens and simulated birdcall are intended to intercept possible nesting, according to Wallace. The humane noise deterrent was first emitted on Jan. 30, on the ledges of the 9th and 10th floors, to encourage the birds to establish their nest elsewhere, Woodward states the noise is being emitted from a BB Pro Digital Bird Repeller, built by Bird-X, a firm that specializes in noise repellants. The devices are located on the north, south, east and west sides of the building, Wallace said.
The redevelopment project is in compliance with the Environmental Safety Act, according to the Redevelopment Plan notes. The safety act enforces protection of imperiled animal life by removing or lessening threats to their survival. Experts are handing the removal of the fully protected species in a considerate and mindful way, states Woodward.
The birds are no longer landing at the previous nesting site due to the frequency array in the immediate area, states Wallace. Plans are to move the equipment to the 6th floor next, as the falcons have been seen on the lower level, according to Josh Phillips, biologist with Pacific Biology.
Re-nesting has not occurred so far, declares Wallace. The two-week span in which biological investigation of the building and it’s surrounding trees expires mid-February. Plans to commence demolition of the structure are set to begin immediately after, according to the university’s website.
Warren Hall has been unoccupied by faculty and staff since the spring of 2011. The CSU Seismic Review Board rated the 13-floor, concrete building as unsafe in a system wide earthquake study. It is the least safe building in the 23-campus system, according to the board.
The college campus sits directly on the Hayward Fault, considered to be one of the most dangerous in the United States, according to the East Bay Business Times. Because of the structure’s unsafe nature, removal of the hall will create a safer environment for the people who attend class and work on the campus.
The CSU Board of Trustees authorized 50 million dollars for this replacement project. In its place will be a four to five-story administrative and faculty office building, according to the Warren Hall Replacement Plan notes.
The university’s website explains that parking lots A and B, closest to Warren Hall, are to be fenced off in sections during the construction. Parking spaces will be limited to only 325 spots available for faculty and staff. Roadblocks are to shut down West Loop Road in front of the Hall.