Little River Airport Advisory Committee Seeks Members

Little River Airport Advisory Committee Seeks Members — Mendocino Beacon, CA

Applicants are being sought for the Little River Airport Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of three pilot members and four non-pilot members. Early this year two non-pilot terms held by Trey Loy and Willow Trent will expire, as will the pilot term held by Steve Schoolman. Both Schoolman and Loy will apply for reappointment, Trent has asked to be replaced.

In 2003, the appointment of alternates to the committee was approved by the county Board of Supervisors, who then appointed alternates, but more are needed. Non-pilot alternate Robin Bell has moved from the area. (See sidebar for how to apply and eligibility information.)

Due to lack of members and alternates attendance, the Jan. 16 meeting had no quorum. The meeting proceeded but no decisions were made except to set a date for next months meeting, Friday, Feb. 27, 9 a.m. at The Woods clubhouse, a week later than regularly scheduled due to a conflict in scheduling.

Items discussed included a vegetation management plan and its implementation. Funds were approved to purchase a parcel at the end of runway 29, at the east end of the airport. A GPS, instrument, approach has been long been considered for that runway. The recently acquired property has many obstacles (trees) that would have to be cut to meet FAA standards for a GPS approach.

County Department of Transportations Tom Peters said his department had asked for funding for a vegetation management plan to be drawn up using department staff, but the funds were not approved. LRAAC Chairman Tim Scully said if necessary, the committee could draft a plan.

Everyone agreed that it is necessary to be environmentally cautious, and also sensitive to the airports neighbors in preparing a vegetation management plan. However, Peters said that in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act, obstructions to airport safety can be categorically excluded for CEQA and exempt for NEPA. He said this means, if necessary, they could clear cut.

Scully said, What we are talking about is selective cutting, somewhere between clearcut and environmentally-aesthetically right, and leaving trees to reseed. Some clearcutting may be done close to the runway. Scully said those trees have grown fast.

We want to do this cutting as painlessly as possible to the airport neighbors and to the environment, Scully said.

Peters said there is money available through the Los Angeles procedures office for things like removing obstacles for a GPS approach. The procedures office wants the state Safety Officer to do an on-site survey of what needs to be done and verify it so the least number of trees necessary will be cut.

There was discussion about the Nature Conservancys land at the east end of the runway, it also has many trees that need to be cut, and some may have to be lighted.

Peters said his office had not contacted the Nature Conservancy, but that hed talked with the Coastal Conservancy about a land swap. He said they support a swap between a parcel of the countys airport land and the Nature Conservancy that would benefit the airport and provide the conservancy with a wild life corridor.

Scully said that in the Airport Master Plan there is an airport layout plan, written originally in 1980 and recently updated, showing plans to acquire that Nature Conservancy property. No discussion has been held until now, he said, regarding a land swap.

Hangars

The committee received a preliminary draft of the hangar specifications from the county transportation department.

Peters said they need to get estimates before the draft is approved. He is hoping to get manufacturers to price the hangars, including building costs, site work, electric, etc. He said staff time has to be allocated as there is no money for a consultant.

Scully asked if the department had considered two larger hangars, as requested by pilots. Peters said, It is not out of the realm of possibility, but the county would need a long commitment [hangar rental].

Loy asked if, when costing the project out, the difference in adding three larger hangars about 40×50 feet could be figured also. The regular hangars, he said, would be about 30×40 feet.

Of the existing hangars at the airport, only five are owned by the county, the rest are privately owned.

Other matters

A publications firm has approached the committee about doing a color-brochure of the airport, its regulations, local conditions and times, at no cost to the county. The brochure would have advertising to cover costs. The committee voted its approval at the December meeting.

The federal funding bill, with a rider to acquire airport land for safety purposes, that was lobbied heavily by DOT Director Gene Calvert, passed but has not been appropriated. The accumulated $150,00 per year FAA grant, which now totals $450,000, was approved to be used to purchase the property at the east end of runway 29, and to acquire aviation easements for approach protection for the runway. Adjustment will be made to revenues and appropriations to reflect this grant. Application has been made for the FAA $150,000 grant for this year.

The members present agreed to carry forward the same discussions at the Feb. 27 meeting.

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