Over the weekend The Badger & the Whooping Crane (or rather this writer for TB&WC) took a quick trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and very much enjoyed its downtown waterfront on the Missouri River. Omaha, it turns out has a great park system – highly rated on a list of the nation’s best park systems. We had a good time at the city’s most-visited park area: the 23-acre Lewis and Clark Landing on the riverfront, just east of Omaha’s Century Link Convention Center.
Have a look at the view here across, and up the Missouri River. The city of Omaha, its convention center, hotels, etc – all that was just a short distance behind me when I took this photo, September 19th. But amazingly, I felt I was seeing a vista that might not be so different from what Lewis & Clark saw in 1804 (except for what is probably a small motor boat on the end of the island).
This park is named, as you surely know, for the 8,000 mile, 2 year expedition led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark, (1804-06). Traveling to the west, up the Missouri River, and eventually reaching the Pacific coast via the Columbia River, the expedition was camped along the Missouri, a bit north of the future site of Omaha during early August, in 1804.
At the northern edge of the Lewis & Clark Landing is the Midwest Regional Headquarters of the National Park Service. This new (2004), innovative and LEED-certified building also houses a Visitor’s Center for the Lewis & Clark National HIstoric Trail. But we were mostly interested in another feature in the same area of the Omaha riverfront: the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge, providing a scenic walkway across the river to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Here is a view of the bridge, as it curves down to ground level, in Iowa:
It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the bridge had plenty of traffic, but “relaxed” traffic, as families and hikers and bikers were making the quick trek over to Iowa and back. We all were approximately 60 feet above the Missouri River with great views in every direction.
Here are a few more bridge statistics: it opened in 2008. It is a cable-stayed bridge, meaning cables at the top of the bridge’s two tall towers fan out to attach to and hold up the bridge. It is 3,000 feet in length, and the surface walkway is 15 feet wide. Best of all, in my opinion, is that this bridge is a hub connecting to 150 miles of trails.
And another view of the bridge; in this case, looking down river, back toward Omaha:
I found several short online reviews of the Kerry Pedestrian Bridge – mostly superlatives, but one commenter said simply, “It’s just a bridge.” That got me thinking about bridges in general, and how important they are.
Even the simplest foot bridge connects the creatures in one area to creatures and resources in another that would mostly remain inaccessible without a bridge. I was reminded too, of an article, 10 Important Wildlife Corridors, at the Mother Nature Network. It describes over and underpasses, ecoducts, corridors, and green belts that connect wildlife to each other and to protected refuges. Don’t you think that’s welcome news? Innovation for wildlife which is facing shrinking habitat in a world developed for human needs.