Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crater Lake - Klamath Regional Airport (KLMT) plans focus on endangered plant

A small plant native to Klamath Falls could become a big problem for the city's airport.

Applegate's milkvetch, an endangered plant found at the Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, was a topic of interest at a Monday work session at City Hall. Members of Klamath Falls City Council and staff discussed how the plants are affecting design of a new runway at the city's airport, and the steps needed to find a solution.

There are about 22,000 Applegate's milkvetch plants at the city's airport, but only 1,000 plants could interfere with the Taxiway J project at Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, according to city staff. If a solution cannot be reached to design a taxiway that doesn't interfere with the milkvetch plants, Airport Director John Longley said the city should redirect work to Taxiway G. A biologist is slated to study the plant with Operations Manager Bill Hancock next week, and provide more information at a later date.

"While we have worked to address the milkvetch issue, time has been tolling against entitlement funds and carry over to support the project," Longley said in a memorandum.

An altering role


Hancock said the core of the milkvetch plant is subterranean, and modifies alkaline soil so other plants can grow.

"It's like an iceberg," Hancock said. "There's a part of it below ground. It'll grow dormant and in a month, you won't even find evidence of the plant above the surface.

"Bunnies like it," he added.

Councilors agreed that city staff should consider Longley's recommendation to preserve the Taxiway J improvement and Taxiway G work, which would save the city the loss of grant money.

"If (Taxiway) J doesn't work, we have the ability to maintain our initiative on (Taxiway) G," Longley said. "(Taxiway) G will be a win because it will support the (Air National) Guard; it will support aviation in general."

City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said he hoped to receive help from the Federal Aviation Administration to find a solution to the environmental issue.

"We're not the only airport dealing with endangered species issues," Cherpeski said.


Source: http://www.chinookobserver.com

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