Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jumpstarting airport EIS could be troublesome

Airport in Jackson, Wyo., located in sage grouse habitat


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

A commercial flight takes off at Friedman Memorial Airport. Express file photo

If flight reliability at Friedman Memorial Airport cannot be improved by technological changes to help sustain commercial air service there, city and county officials could work together to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider alternative airport sites.

Airport Manager Rick Baird said during a public meeting Thursday, Dec. 8, that the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority is investigating possible upgrades to onboard airplane navigation systems, in advance of a public meeting scheduled for February.

Baird was addressing about 30 people at a meeting held at Wood River High School to provide information and gather public comment on airport issues.

The FAA recently suspended environmental impact studies of two possible new airport sites, citing "increased anticipated costs of the project and potential impacts to wildlife."

The most-preferred site, called Site 10A, east of state Highway 75 just north of the Lincoln County line, became problematic due to rising costs and recognition of the area as important habitat for greater sage grouse. In March, the sage grouse became a prime candidate for the federal endangered species list, which would afford it increased federal protection.

"The FAA does not want to handle a project that could be flash point for why the sage grouse is listed," Baird said.

Meanwhile, airport officials in Jackson, Wyo., continue to be challenged by sage grouse that are competing for air space with human air traffic.

The airport is nearby, or within a core sage grouse area, reported the Jackson Hole News & Guide in November.

The newspaper reported that sage grouse collisions with aircraft at Jackson Hole Airport have roughly doubled in the past year, despite recent declines in both the number of airplanes and the number of grouse at the airport.

The report also stated that in 2005, a sage grouse collision caused "substantial" damage to a business jet.

Biologist Bryan Bedrosian, who has studied sage grouse at the airport for several years, told the newspaper that scheduling flight patterns of aircraft to accommodate the birds could provide a solution.

"All of our data suggest that sage grouse are going to have their flight movements first thing in the morning and at dusk," he said. "Once they're at their day location, they pretty much stay put."

Baird said restarting the environmental impact study of Site 10A and other alternative airport sites in and around Blaine County is not out of the question. He also said some of the other 16 potential airport relocation sites could also be revisited, but that county, city and airport leaders would have to let the FAA know that this is the direction they would like to take.

"It's up to you," he said.

Baird also said Hailey and Blaine County leaders would likely have to work together to raise about $100 million for the "public" portion of a replacement airport, expected to cost upwards of $300 million.

"The cost is real and the share is real," he said.

The Airport Authority and the FAA have been studying the possibility of relocating Friedman after the FAA determined that Friedman might have to be expanded to meet regulations to serve certain types of larger aircraft. The process has been going on for approximately a decade.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.