Akron-Canton Airport to Clear Habitat for Deer

The Akron-Canton Airport wants to get rid of white-tailed deer that pose a risk to arriving and departing planes.

The airport intends to clear 33 wooded acres on the northwest side of its property in Green, said airport Director Fred Krum.

The airport decided it had to act after there were two ``strikes'' or collisions between planes and deer in the winter of 2003-04, and the Federal Aviation Administration concurred, Krum said.

In both cases, small planes struck and killed the deer with little damage to the planes, he said.

But that raised concerns among airport officials that more needed to be done, and that the airport's use of sharpshooters with special permits was not keeping the deer numbers down, Krum said.

At its peak, the airport may have had about 20 deer, but the number is probably down to a handful, Krum said. That belief is based on airport personnel seeing few deer on the grounds.

Before the two deer-plane collisions in 2003-04, the airport would typically have one collision every six years or so, Krum said.

Such collisions pose a greater risk to smaller planes than large commercial jetliners, he said.

The 33 acres are 1,200 feet west of the airport's north-south runway, 2,500 feet south of Greensburg Road and east of Massillon Road (state Route 241).

Cutting the trees and filling in a wetland will require approval of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That's because the project would affect 4 ½ acres of wetlands and 1,400 feet of an unnamed tributary to Nimishillen Creek. The plans call for filling the wetland with 4,000 cubic yards of material.

Under federal and state law, the wetlands can be filled in but must be improved or expanded at other locations so there is no net loss of wetlands. Wetlands are considered important because they filter and clean surface water.

The airport proposes to fund two wetland projects at parks in Green: at Boettler Park and the 205-acre Southgate Farm at Mount Pleasant and Massillon roads that was recently purchased by the city.

The airport's wetlands plan will be the subject of a public meeting by the EPA at 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Green Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 4046 Massillon Road, Green.

Anyone interested in being placed on a mailing list for the project or presenting written comment on the application should write to the Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216. The public comment period ends Dec. 14.

The airport's application and related materials are available for public review by calling 614-644-2001.

Clearing the tract is under way in areas where wetlands are not an issue, and the project will continue next year, Krum said.

The airport has taken additional steps to get rid of deer.

Three small wooded tracts with no wetlands on the airport's 3,000 acres in Green and Jackson Township have already been cleared, Krum said.

New 10-foot-high chain-link fencing was installed last summer inside the airport's 6-foot-high fence, he said.

In most places, both fences remain, although the shorter fencing was removed in a few spots, Krum said.

The fencing and clearing the 33 acres will cost $2.5 million -- with federal funds paying for 90 percent of the work, Krum said. The airport will pay the local share with fees paid by airport users.

Akron Beacon Journal

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