Tuesday, July 24, 2012

El Paso International (KELP), Texas: Bird strike concerns near airport force soccer complex elsewhere

EL PASO, Texas -  So what do the Hudson River accident back in 2009 and El Paso's Butterfield Trail Golf Course have to do with one another? 

 Two weeks ago, El Paso City Council decided against building a soccer complex on El Paso International Airport land surrounding the Butterfield Trail Golf Course.

The reason was because concern about bird strikes, the same thing that caused the Hudson River accident three and a half years ago.

"We've been very concerned about this for a long time," said Jeff Schutles, assistant director of aviation at El Paso International.

Schultes said since the Hudson River accident in January of 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration has made preventing bird strikes across the country a priority. Especially at places like Butterfield Trail Golf Course, which opened five years ago, in between the takeoff and landing paths at el paso international.

"We have done a complete wildlife study for the golf course," Schultes said.

That study revealed that the golf course does attract birds, and a proposed soccer complex would have attracted many more, which could create a problem for planes.

"If you have more and more green space right next to it, it just creates more of a potential hazard," Schultes said. "The last thing we want to do is have a problem with birds, so we stay on top of it and we want to make sure the airport is a safe as it can be. Even some of our drainage ditches that are near the runway we have netting over the top for birds."

The general manager of Butterfield Trail Golf Course echoed the concern about birds.

"Obviously the FAA deemed it a concern," said Val D'Sourza, GM at Butterfield Trail. "This golf course co-exists with mother nature. Most prominent we see some swallows. They're very active around the property and there's a lot of small insects they like to eat. And we see lots and lots of quail. We have four different species of quail which are all very beautiful birds."

D'Souza said Butterfield Trail has two of the largest ponding areas you'll find in El Paso. But he said they only attract smaller birds, not bigger birds like the Canadian geese that caused the Hudson accident.

"The biggest thing that's around here is on four legs," D'Souza saod. "So I don't think they'll put any damage on airplanes."

D'Souza was referring to coyotes, which have been known to venture onto the runway from time to time, but are actually part of the solution when it comes to birds on the golf course. He said in the ponding areas those coyotes serve to police the area, running off unwanted birds that may stop at the course during migration.

Story and video:   http://www.kvia.com

No comments:

Post a Comment