County to Perform Wildlife Hazard Study at Arcata-Eureka Airport

Here’s the raw press release from the airport:

County to Perform Wildlife Hazard Study at Arcata-Eureka Airport

The Humboldt County Public Works Department -Division of Aviation is embarking on a 12-month Wildlife Hazard Assessment (WHA) to identify wildlife species and habitat conditions on and near the Arcata-Eureka Airport that could pose potential hazards to aircraft.  Arcata Eureka Airport serves as Humboldt County’s regional commercial airport and is certified to operate as a commercial airport by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 139 Certification program.

The Aviation Division is undertaking the study at the request of the FAA, who will determine whether a wildlife management plan will be needed at the airport.  “FAA has always expressed concern about potential wildlife hazards,” said Jacquelyn Hulsey, Airport Manager, “but FAA has placed greater emphasis on identifying and managing potential hazards since U.S. Airways flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River last January.”  That flight was forced to make an emergency landing after it struck a flock of Canada geese while departing from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The purpose of the WHA is three-fold:  to identify potentially hazardous wildlife species on and near the airport; to analyze wildlife attractants on and in the airport vicinity; and to provide recommendations to avoid potential hazards.  The WHA will include bi-monthly monitoring at specified locations to determine the presence, abundance, and behavior of wildlife species and their habitats.

The WHA team is being led by Mead & Hunt, aviation consultants.  Local biologists and ornithologists from Mad River Biologists, a Eureka-based environmental consulting firm, will conduct the biological monitoring.  Technical oversight will be provided by Dr. Russell DeFusco of BASH, Inc, a FAA-certified Wildlife Hazard Damage Biologist who trains biologists and airport operators nationwide about issues pertaining to wildlife hazard management. The team will assist the Aviation Division in the development of a Wildlife Hazard Assessment report that the County will provide to the FAA.

To be successful, the WHA will depend on input from diverse contributors, including airport staff, tenants, pilots, regulatory agencies with jurisdiction over natural resources, and area residents.  The Aviation Division will host a public workshop early next year (2011) to share the results of the draft WHA and obtain input from interested stakeholders.

“One of the great things about Humboldt County is its abundance of natural resources—especially wildlife,” said Ms. Hulsey, “and the Aviation Division strives to be a responsible steward.  We are committed to providing a safe operating environment for the traveling public while minimizing the effects of airport operations on wildlife.  When aircraft and wildlife encounter one another, there is no winner.  We want to be a good neighbor by preventing or reducing the risk of such encounters.”

For questions about the Aviation Division’s upcoming study, please contact Ms. Emily Jacobs, Program Coordinator, by telephone (707-839-5401) or email (ejacobs@co.humboldt.ca.us).

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “County to Perform Wildlife Hazard Study at Arcata-Eureka Airport

  1. annon

    i’m glad we’ve got plenty of dollars to keep all these consultants employed.

  2. The County was handed a wildlife study when the McK Community Services District wanted to use the 800 acre airport for sewage spray disposal. Now we have 20,000 to 40,000 geese flying in V-formations in Humboldt County perfectly capable of taking out any aircraft.

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