Trees around Norfolk International Airport to be cut down

Robert Bowen, Deputy Executive Director of Norfolk International Airport Authority, shows where trees will be cut down near the airport (WAVY/Brandi Cummings)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — No one traveling in an airplane wants a bird to impact their flight — that’s why Norfolk International Airport officials want to cut down 20 acres of trees.

Robert Bowen, deputy executive director of the Norfolk Airport Authority, said wildlife is something all airports have to deal with. And that’s no less true in Norfolk.

“The airport is situated with a fresh water lake, Chesapeake Bay, a golf course, a Botanical Garden — we’re on the Atlantic fly way, so we see different migratory birds throughout the year,” he said.

For the safety of wildlife and airline travelers, Bowen said hundreds of trees north of Norfolk International’s crosswind runway may soon be cut down.

10 On Your Side did some digging and found on the Federal Aviation Administration database, between January and October last year, there were 27 wildlife strikes at Norfolk International.

“Something clearly needs to be done,” Founder of Eagle on Alliance Carol Senechal told 10 On Your Side.

Senechal started Eagle on Alliance in 2011 after an eagle was killed on the runway. She wants more done to protect wildlife. She said the plan to remove the trees is a step in the right direction, but not a perfect solution.

“I don’t want trees taken down either, but instead of nothing, I guess it will have to do,” she said.

Bowen said there was a Wildlife Hazard Assessment completed four years ago. It revealed the need to remove the 20 acres of trees, but the airport authority didn’t act on it then. He said that’s because of an environmental impact study underway to see if they can build a new parallel runway.

“We’ve decided that since it is going to be a couple more years before that is completed, if there are some actions we can take now to start mitigating the roosting areas where we can and where the various city, state and federal agencies say we can do it, then we want to go on and start moving in that direction,” Bowen said.

Bowen said they will have to get final approval from the city of Norfolk, the state and the federal government before the trees can be removed.

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