Airport Business - 12

AUTHOR Sherri Swanson, Ryan Beckman

On the Wild Side

Threatened animals can add complexity when expanding airports in the
AS AIRPORTS across the U.S. continue to expand
and renovate, protecting environmental resources
is often one of the top priorities for stakeholders
and communities. To successfully and responsibly
deliver needed aviation projects, airports need the
right environmental processes and expertise - and
sometimes a little bit of creativity.
When Fort Lauderdale Executive
Airport (FXE) needed to build a new
loop road to improve vehicle access,
it faced a challenge unique to its area.
Florida burrowing owls and gopher
tortoises had taken up residence on the
airfield, requiring experts to find the
protected species and safely relocate
them, while navigating tight timelines,
cold weather and a strict Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission
permitting process.
The challenge is a familiar one to
Florida airports, which have employed


Sherri Swanson is a senior
environmental scientist and project
manager for HDR who has provided
wildlife expertise throughout the U.S.
for airports, utilities, roadways, solar
fields and more.

Ryan Beckman is an aviation designer
for HDR who has worked on multiple
airport projects throughout Florida and

various methods to work around
protected species, from repeated
relocation to more suitable areas, to
installing artificial turf to dissuade new
residents. Gopher tortoises in particular,
whose populations are threatened
throughout Florida, are protected by
strict regulations that protect them and
their underground burrows, and which
makes handling the animals illegal
without a license.
FXE Airport Manager Rufus James
said working around these animals in an
environmentally responsible manner has
been a consideration since he began his
role at the airport 20 years ago.
"As challenging as it is," James said,
"we've always teamed up with the right
professionals, which makes the task
at hand easy to handle and makes it a
In Fort Lauderdale, a proposed loop
road on the west end of the airport was
one of two designed to reduce runway
incursions by allowing fuel trucks and
tugs to reach their destinations by going
around the runway rather than across
it. Successfully mitigating impacts to
the owls and tortoises was critical to a
successful project delivery effort that
encompassed the full project development
process, from design, to environmental
clearance, through construction.


It's one of many projects on which
HDR has partnered with FXE Airport
Engineer Fernando Blanco as the
airport's general engineering aviation
consultant. A south loop road completed
in fall 2018, also by HDR, similarly had
to work around these species; although
to a lesser extent.
"When we did the south loop road
the number of burrows were minimal,
maybe one or two," James said. "But
with the west end, the numbers were
in the double digits, so it called for a
different approach -relocating animals
to a new area."


Airport Business

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport Business

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
On the Wild Side
Change for Good
Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Williston Takes Flight
Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Guru
Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Product Focus
Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 1
Airport Business - 2
Airport Business - 3
Airport Business - 4
Airport Business - 5
Airport Business - 6
Airport Business - Inside the Fence
Airport Business - Industry Update
Airport Business - 9
Airport Business - 10
Airport Business - 11
Airport Business - On the Wild Side
Airport Business - 13
Airport Business - 14
Airport Business - 15
Airport Business - Change for Good
Airport Business - 17
Airport Business - 18
Airport Business - 19
Airport Business - Cover Story: Economy Inflight
Airport Business - 21
Airport Business - 22
Airport Business - 23
Airport Business - 24
Airport Business - 25
Airport Business - Williston Takes Flight
Airport Business - 27
Airport Business - Enhance Airport and Airline Relations
Airport Business - 29
Airport Business - 30
Airport Business - 31
Airport Business - FBOs and OEMs: Strange Bedfellows
Airport Business - 33
Airport Business - Airport Guru
Airport Business - 35
Airport Business - Solid Answers for Successful Airports
Airport Business - 37
Airport Business - Product Focus
Airport Business - 39
Airport Business - Animal Control on the Runway
Airport Business - 41
Airport Business - 42
Airport Business - 43
Airport Business - 44