Airport releases plan to limit wildlife hazards

Proposal includes cutting trees near popular wetlands trail

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2001

The Juneau Airport wants to clearcut a woodland by the floatplane pond and fill some wetlands to discourage wildlife near the airstrip, according to a list of proposals released by airport staff.

Airport Manager Allan Heese has asked the airport board to approve the list at its monthly meeting on Wednesday so he can include the proposals in a Wildlife Hazard Management Plan under review by federal regulators.

The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the wildlife management plan along with a host of airport improvement projects in an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, due late next year. The FAA ultimately could approve the wildlife management plan or an alternative to it.

Heese's proposals, listed in order of priority and with estimated dates for completion, are:

Eliminate all grassy areas adjacent to the runway, taxiway and ramp areas (2003).

Fill wetlands on airport property west of Duck Creek (2003).

Fill wetlands by Duck Creek between the airport property boundary and Mendenhall River (2003).

Relocate Duck Creek north and allow it to flow into the Mendenhall River (2005) .

Replace plastic spikes on airfield equipment with devices more effective at deterring eagles from perching (2002).

Remove aquatic vegetation in float pond and dredge the sloughs to help prevent new growth (2004).

Cut all trees in the float pond woodland and leave them on their sides (2005).

Convert drainage ditches into underground drain pipes (2004).

Improve drainage along edge of runway and parallel taxiway (2004).

Remove small rock dam at the mouth of Jordan Creek to speed up fish passage (2003).

Reconstruct inlet valve to float pond to prevent fish from entering the pond (2006).

Heese floated a few tentative proposals last month at a public meeting, but the crowd focused mostly on a tentative plan to cut the trees near the float pond.

Heese said the trees pose a serious threat to aviators because birds fly across the runway to reach the woodland, which stands between the airstrip and Douglas Island.

But the clearcut idea was opposed strongly by some residents who walk the scenic Airport Dike Trail, a popular path on the edge of the airstrip. Opponents said the woodland enhances safety because it diverts birds flying toward the runway from other directions.

The airport board is scheduled to consider the proposals at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the airport Aurora Room.

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com.



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