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County to spend up to $10k fixing bird problem

The Mower County Board of Commissioners completed the final step in a plan to reduce a common problem around the new jail: bird poop.

As part of a plan to deter crows and other birds from leaving their waste on and around the jail, the county board is set to tear out a row of ash trees west of the new jail and justice center.

With the help of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, which approved the board’s plan last Wednesday, the board is looking to tear out a row of ash trees and replace them with smaller ornamental trees like ginkgos and pear trees.

On Tuesday, the Mower County Board doubled their initial funding for the project and are prepared to pay up to $10,000 to tear out and replace the trees along the First Street parking along the west side of the jail.

With the larger ash trees lining the street between Fourth and Second avenues northeast, birds — and their waste — are frequent visitors to the area. In fact, birds even left their mark on the new building late last year, meaning staff will have to power wash the facility again, which could cost more than $10,000.

County coordinator Craig Oscarson said bird poop on the new jail would be a recurring problem — and power washes would be necessary on a recurring basis — if the ash trees remained.

“The board’s not trying to say they’re anti-tree, they’re just trying to say they’re anti-crow poop,” Oscarson said previously.

But the trees are on city property, which is why the park board needed to get involved. On Wednesday, that board approved a plan that would leave two baby ash trees but would replace the rest with eight smaller trees, which are believed to be less attractive to birds and especially crows.

The two northernmost trees, which are white ash, will be left since they are in good shape.

— Mike Rose contributed to this report