In Idaho's Sage Grouse Habitat, Rural Airports Come Second

Feb 17, 2016

Credit Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

Seven places identified as possible long-term replacement sites for the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey are smack-dab in the middle of sage grouse country. Loud airport noise, roads, buildings and towers are all things that could disturb the bird, which is famously particular about its habitat.

“Commercial airports are not allowed within any of the of the priority habitat management areas according to our new land use plan," says Bureau of Land Management Shoshone Field Manager Codie Martin. "So we had to inform [the airport board members] that approximately seven of their sites will no longer be allowed for consideration.”  

The BLM updated the land use rules in greater sage grouse habitat last fall, restricting activities like oil and gas exploration and grazing. Martin says since the land use plans were approved, he's talked to many people in Idaho about what the changes mean for them – including Hailey’s airport officials. Martin says they had good questions about the policy changes, and didn’t seem surprised to hear some of the potential sites on BLM land would likely not receive approval.

Airport manager Rick Baird says they still have options for a future location – one that isn’t in priority sage grouse habitat.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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