The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) can conduct inspections on the Dent suspension bridge over Dworshak Reservoir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, near Orofino, Idaho, after environmental officials recently installed nesting platforms for ospreys, which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Officials needed to inspect the 1,500-foot-long bridge's overhead cable saddles, where the ospreys have built nests, preventing inspectors from evaluating the bridge’s safety.
Workers have begun installing aluminum platforms to hold the osprey nests. Some nesting material was transferred to the new area to encourage the birds to resettle there, but officials ultimately won't know whether the birds will accept the platforms until they return in the spring.
Adding the new structures to encourage the birds to move is the most environmentally responsible strategy that the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) could muster.
“Inspectors needed to check the 45-year-old bridge, but could not inspect the top of the towers because of the nesting osprey,” Dan Gorley, Bridge Asset Management engineer with ITD, said. “Efforts to remove the nests to clear the area for inspection only resulted in the birds returning to rebuild the nests in the same spot.”
ITD plans to finish installing the platforms by the time the birds return in the spring.