The Olentangy River will remain firework-free for a while longer until the city of Columbus’ efforts to rid the river of geese are cleared with the fire marshal.
The geese — said to be treating vegetation between Fifth and Lane avenues as a personal buffet — are set to be cleared from the area in order for work on a construction project to be completed.
Andy Montoney, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in Ohio, said the fire marshal’s clearance is “just part of the process.”
“We’re working with the state fire marshal’s office to make sure everyone is on board with what we’re doing and the equipment we’re using. We want to make sure there’s no surprises anywhere,” Montoney said.
He added he is not sure how long it will be until the fire marshal approves the plan.
“We’re just going to have to be persistent and keep them moving along so the grass has enough time to germinate and grow,” Montoney said.
A fire marshal representative did not return a call requesting comment Wednesday.
Deterrents to scare the geese away are set to include pyrotechnics, among other devices.
“Some (pyrotechnics) make a large bang, some make a screaming type of siren sound. There are certain types of lasers that we use, where the geese see the dots and get scared of it and move away. We’re also using flagging. The flagging can be things like mylar tape or black plastic bags. Exclusionary devices like small fences to keep them from walking up out of the water onto the bank (will also be used),” Montoney said.
The geese are not expected to be harmed in the process and will likely move to a section more south or north on the river, Montoney added.
George Zonders, a spokesman for the city of Columbus, said the city government is looking forward to getting started, as the process was set to begin Wednesday.
“(The delay) was a bit unexpected. There’s lots of hoops to jump through, i’s to dot and t’s to cross but we’re looking forward to everything being set in place,” Zonders said.
In August 2012, the Olentangy River renovation began with the partial removal of the Fifth Avenue Dam. About one-third of the structure was removed completely, while along the remaining length of the dam, the top two feet of concrete were removed and the rest was covered with soil. The project was estimated in October to be finished by May 31, weather permitting.
The total cost was $6.9 million, which includes $500,000 in grant funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, $2 million from OSU and $2.1 million from the city of Columbus.
Zonders said the goose removal effort is an agreement between Columbus city government, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Evans Landscaping, the company contracted by the government to carry out some of the river construction.
OSU spokeswoman Liz Cook said in an email the university is being kept in the loop.
“Ohio State is being kept apprised of developments and will continue to cooperate with the City of Columbus and USDA planners,” she said.
Many OSU students were notified of the planned process through weekly email newsletters or emails from residence hall staff.