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Airport must axe trees to add new landing approach

Posted: September 3, 2013 - 8:17pm  |  Updated: September 4, 2013 - 12:00am

A plan to add a new approach pattern for planes coming into Juneau International Airport during inclement weather includes chopping down select island trees near the eastern runways.

Airport engineer Ken Nichols presented the plan to the Wetlands Review Board Tuesday. The meeting was mainly informational because the airport does not need clearance from the board to proceed.

“It’s being developed for bad weather,” Nichols said of the new landing system. He added that it accommodates Alaska Airlines’ policies, and will be used “every year when the weather and wind gets really bad. It won’t be every day, all the time.”

The lower approach pattern means most low-level foliage near the runway will need to be removed, and some taller trees farther out must be cut down to maintain a clear approach slope for incoming jets.

The trees do house some wildlife, namely eagles, but the islands are only a small portion of a larger habitat so the project is not expected to adversely affect wildlife, Nichols said.

He added that the project will affect about three islands, and that a contracted wildlife biologist is being consulted throughout the project.

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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