Wildlife fence proposed around airport


ALAMOSA —Just like on a highway, a deer is not a welcomed sight on a runway. That's why the San Luis Valley Regional Airport is planning to install an eight-foot-tall wildlife fence for roughly eight miles around the property.

Jviation, the airport's engineering consultant firm, discussed their plan at the airport advisory board meeting on Thursday. The preliminary design document shows the fence mainly following the airport's property line with the addition of a perimeter road. Manual swing gates will replace three existing slide gates.

"Some of this stuff is still in flux," said Jviation Project Manager Jon Weeks, "like how much perimeter road needs to be put in."

The Federal Aviation Administration will fund 95 percent of the project and Colorado Department of Transportation and Alamosa County will each contribute 2.5 percent. According to Weeks the total budget is estimated at $2,263,158, so Alamosa County will pay $56,578.95. The cost of the match has already been allocated in the county's approved 2018 budget.

The firm will perform a cultural and biological survey since the fence is currently planned to cross Rock Creek twice and will be near wetlands on the eastern side of the airport.

"Our intention is to do our best to leave Rock Creek in the same condition we find it, with just a little crossing for a fence," said Weeks. "We're going to minimize the disturbance to the best of our ability and still accomplish the needed safety and wildlife fence for your airport."

The fence will also be flexible enough to allow for future projects in the airport's master plan. The unpaved crosswind runway, for instance, will be included in the design in case it meets the safety standards to no longer be decommissioned.

"I think there is still a huge interest by the [general aviation] community here to get the crosswind runway going again," said board member Jed Ellithorpe.

Jviation and the FAA hope to finalize the scope of the project by today. A more complete fence design is expected in the spring with the bid going out in June and construction beginning in September or October.