Nine trees to be removed in Port Angeles airport emergency measure
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
This stand of trees in the western edge of Lincoln Park in Port Angeles includes trees slated for removal this summer to clear part of the landing pattern for nearby William R. Fairchild International Airport.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Seven towering trees in Lincoln Park that obstruct runway access to nearby William R. Fairchild International Airport will be removed by the end of August, Jerry Ludke, airport and marina manager for the Port of Port Angeles, told port commissioners Tuesday at their regular meeting.

Five are located near the park's dog park, while two are farther east in the park.

Two more trees also will be felled. One is on city-owned property that may not be part of Lincoln Park, while the other is on port-owned land.

The nine trees — eight of them city-owned — are 100- to 120-foot-tall Douglas fir and Western hemlock.

“They'll get started in late July probably,” Ludke said later.

An obstructive utility pole on port property also will be lit up with identifying lights or removed.

Emergency measure

The action to remove nine trees is an emergency measure. It is separate from a proposal to cut all Lincoln Park trees that limit runway visibility.

It could be at least a year before work begins on an environmental assessment for the larger project, which could lead to the elimination of many of the park's trees in 2016, Ludke said.

The emergency measure concerning nine trees is being undertaken because the Federal Aviation Administration has declared that the trees and a utility pole are in the flight path for nighttime or bad-weather GPS landings and has restricted night landings on runway 26, the airport's main east-west runway.

Ludke said he expects the FAA flight restrictions will be removed in August.

A call for bids is expected later this month, he said.

The value of the trees will be realized twice. The low bidder will keep the trees that are downed, while the port also will reimburse the city of Port Angeles for the city trees' value, with those funds added to the city's parks and recreation fund, Ludke said.

What workers will do

Workers will grind the stumps below grade and fill in the depressions with topsoil, Ludke told the commissioners.

The removal of the trees may be just the beginning of the city-owned park's transformation, although it would be a multiyear process.

At a joint meeting earlier this month between the City Council and port board of commissioners, council members also voted to allow the trees to be cut and to sign a memorandum of agreement for the FAA to conduct an environmental assessment of the park that focuses on all trees at the park that can creep into the airport's flight path.

The assessment would begin in 2015 and the problem addressed in 2016, Ludke said.

“Once we remove these trees in late July or early August, we would be OK for a while until the environmental assessment is completed,” he said.

The assessment report will include a preferred alternative from options that include removal of all the obstructive trees, removal of some of the trees or keeping the runway permanently shorter, Ludke said after the meeting.

“There's a fair chance the preferred alternative will involve removing some trees,” he said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 11. 2014 12:58PM
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