Sunday, July 21, 2013

Eagle watch

Special Condition 4 requires monitoring for the presence of bald eagle nests within 1000 feet of airport operations until such time as the airport becomes fully operational. We asked the Corps why an operational airport would trigger termination of the monitoring program. They answered that the eagle experts they consulted advised that eagles are unlikely to nest in proximity to an operational airport.

If bald eagle nests are found, the applicant is required to notify the Austin Ecological Field Office of the U.S, Fish and Wildlife agency in order to comply with regulations relative to the bald eagle. What a great idea! And thanks to the Corps for trying to protect a magnificent bird. But again who’s going to be watching? And if nests are found will they be reported? Or would their presence be interpreted as an operational hurdle to be neutralized? Could this requirement actually put bald eagles in danger?

If construction ever gets underway, eyes on the river would be a real asset not only to help locate nests but also to make sure those nests are reported to Fish and Wildlife. StopCTA will work with Audubon and other area birders, to encourage regular citizen monitoring.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Re-greening the airport

Over a month after the Corps’ December 11 response to Mr. Carpenter et al, the developer answered with an email on January 25, 2013 to address the Corps’ request for revisions to the mitigation plan that had been outstanding for nearly a year:

“As you know, we are working with the Wilbarger Creek Mitigation Bank team and their consultants to achieve a mutually agreeable off-site mitigation solution for the Central Texas Airport/Greenport project. The individuals copied above on this email are authorized to work with you and the USACE on our behalf and have access to any information or materials related to our project.”

StopCTA has been aware of the increasingly popular mitigation banking option for some time. Now that the developer has opted to buy his way out of the remaining hurdle, the USACE permitting process is once again moving forward.

But discovering that outsourcing to a mitigation banker is going to resolve the stalled permitting process is really not the most interesting bit of information in that email. Much more titillating is the possibility that the Central Texas Airport will morph into the Central Texas Greenport. Will the re-greening of the CTA to the CTG ever become a reality? Will there be another publicity stunt at the Bullock Museum? Sometimes you just have to shake your head and chuckle . . .

Let there be light

Nearly a year ago on May 08, 2012 aci consulting’s Lauren Dill submitted a revision to the January 2012 EID (Environmental Information Document) concerning light emissions. The attachment to this email is titled EID REVISIONS-light Impacts.doc.

But this document is nowhere to be found in the FOIA documents we received. In its place there is a page with bold letters stating DOCUMENT WITHHELD UNDER EXEMPTION 5.

However the Corps did include an FAA document - Chapter 16. Light Emissions and Visual Effects - from the Airports Desk Reference section on Light Emissions. This seems to be a part of the redacted document as it was not listed as a separate attachment in the email header. The significance of this inclusion is the yellow highlighting of section 2. Applicable Statutes and Implementing Regulations on the first page of the document which states:

“There are no Federal statutory or regulatory requirements for adverse effects. State, regional, or local requirements may apply to airport-related light emissions or visual effects.”

“No Federal regulations govern light emissions or visual intrusions. However, FAA will consider potential effects to properties, and people‚Äôs use of properties, covered by Section 4(f) of the U.S.Department of Transportation (DOT) Act, Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (and 14 of this Desk Reference,LWCF), and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). See Chapters 7 respectively, for more information.”

In other words . . . let there be light and let night become day in rural Bastrop County.

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