Jackson EMC helps build osprey habitat

Gainesville, GA - Jackson EMC helped to build new habitat for two osprey families living at Lake Lanier Friday, March 10. For the past several years, the Ospreys have lived on Boling Bridge, which runs across Lake Lanier connecting Hall and Forsyth counties. Now that a new bridge is being built, the migratory birds need a new home.

“We wanted to help in any way we could, setting these poles and installing the framework for the new nesting sites was a great way for us to contribute to this project,” said Benny Bagwell, Jackson EMC engineering and operations coordinator in Gainesville.

On Friday, two nesting sites were set on the Forsyth County banks of Lake Lanier. Jackson EMC worked with Alabama-based Scott Bridge Company, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Audubon Society to develop a plan to create new homes for the birds. The Audubon Society developed the new nesting sites, which consist of a wood frame, metal fencing and a small perch. The platform is then attached to the top of the poles, which were installed on the banks of the lake, approximately 1,000 feet apart and close to the current nesting sites.

To get the necessary trucks and equipment to the shoreline, Jackson EMC had to drive a truck onto a barge.

“This is not a normal day at work for us, but we’re excited to be here working on this project with these partners,” said Terry Whitworth, Jackson EMC Gainesville district operations superintendent.

It took a team of five Jackson EMC linemen and a crew of five men from Scott Bridge Company only a few hours to set the poles and new platforms, but this day was years in the making.

Ospreys are fish-eating birds of prey and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which required plans for the habitat relocation when designs were made to rebuild Boling Bridge in 2014.

“Now that new nesting sites have been provided, we hope the Osprey will decide to move on their own,” Bagwell said.

The bridge replacement project will take about another two years and the current bridge, and osprey home, will be torn down after the new bridge is complete.

The project is a collaboration between Jackson EMC, the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Army Corps of Engineers and Alabama-based Scott Bridge Company. 

Photos from the project are available here: Boling Bridge Osprey Platform Project