Monday, September 13, 2010

FAA UPDATE: 13 September 2010
Subject: Kodiak Airport EIS project update                

This message is to inform agencies and other interested parties of
the status of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared by
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  I think you are all aware
the purpose of the EIS is to evaluate actions proposed by the Airport
operator, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
(ADOT&PF) to bring the facility into compliance with the most current
national aviation safety standards for runway safety areas.

First, I would like to thank many of you for attending our various
Anchorage and Kodiak meetings in late June.  My consulting team and I found
them very informative, particularly as we were able to further explore
comments from agencies concerning the Preliminary Draft EIS (PDEIS), and
discuss some of our proposed changes to the document in response to your

As I informed meeting participants earlier this summer, our efforts to
complete the Draft EIS (DEIS) are focused in two areas.  At this time, FAA
is conducting a comprehensive review of the alternatives to affirm that the
EIS includes a suitable range of practicable and feasible runway safety
area enhancements for the runways in consideration.  I can tell you the
Draft EIS will include some different alternatives than were evaluated in
the PDEIS.  Second, we are thoroughly reviewing and, in some cases,
revising our impact analyses not only to consider the new alternatives but
to address substantive comments made by those of you who reviewed the
PDEIS.  We are also working on all other aspects of the EIS to respond to
comments and assure an appropriate level of disclosure when the DEIS is
released for public review.

I plan to schedule another round of meetings in the near future with as
many of you as possible.  Our intent will be to present you with a detailed
explanation of the alternatives, including the physical and operational
factors that limit or even prevent consideration of some options and other
rationale used to screen impracticable alternatives or those not feasible.
We will spend time reviewing the alternatives that are undergoing a full
environmental analysis, and I hope to be able at that time to present you
with FAA's preferred alternatives.

The current schedule for the project has the Draft EIS being released
during the first half of 2011.  As we get closer to completion of the
analysis and documentation, I will provide additional updates to inform you
of our progress and next steps.

Let me know if you have questions or concerns, at the contact information
below.  Additionally, the project website ( has
background information about the project.

P.S.  Please let me know if you should no longer be on our e-mail
distribution list, or if your contact information has changed. In addition,
if there are others in your organization who should receive these updates
and other information concerning the Kodiak Airport EIS, please forward
this message.  Thanks, Leslie

Leslie A. Grey
Environmental Protection Specialist
FAA - Alaskan Region, Airports Division

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rare Plant in Path of Runway Extension Toward Buskin River

Below the photo is a correct version of the story that appeared in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on September 8 2010.

Article published on Wednesday, Sep 08th, 2010
Mirror Writer
A rare plant that had been documented only three times before in the world is suddenly making appearances in two different parts of Kodiak.
It’s called sessileleaf scurvygrass and it does not look like much. It’s a short plant between 2 and 3 inches tall with small white flowers and big green seedpods.
What is special about it at first glance is that it lives in an unusual place for a type of plant that usually grows on land. It seems to thrive below the tide line in lagoons, where it is completely submersed in brackish water twice a day.
The plant’s name comes from its relation to the common scurvy grass, a vitamin C-rich plant once eaten by sailors to treat and prevent scurvy. It is a member of the cabbage family.
Previously the plant had only been observed two times on the Kodiak Archipelago and once on the Kenai Peninsula. The first time it was identified by scientists was in the 1930s.
But this year Kodiak botanist Stacy Studebaker came across it three times in one summer. First on Sitkalidak Island and then close to Kodiak near the mouth of the Buskin River.
“Nobody knows much about it,” she said. “That’s what is so exciting about it. How does it disperse its seeds? How does it get pollinated when it is under water half the time? Is it an annual or a perennial? Nobody knows.”
Studebaker discovered the sessileleaf scurvygrass populations on Sitkalidak Island as part of her annual plant survey of a part of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. She first found it in McCord Bay and then found it in similar habitat in Sitkalida Lagoon
The discovery on the Buskin River came by accident when she described the plant to refuge biologist Bill Pyle, who said the plant sounded like something he had seen before at the Buskin.
An investigation of the Buskin revealed a large population not far from the mouth of the river.
The search also found two other rare plants, the Alaska mist maiden and the popcorn flower, neither as rare as the scurvy grass. Both have white flowers, although the popcorn flower has long skinny leaves while the Alaska mist maiden has large, scalloped leaves.
Studebaker said the presence of rare plants made her want to get more involved in a local conservation issue she was already watching closely, the planned expansion of the Kodiak State Airport runway.
The project is part of a required safety expansion to add buffer zones around airport runways. For the north-south runway the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering an alternative that would extend the land around the end of the runway by 1,200 feet toward the mouth of the Buskin.
Studebaker favors an alternative that would expand the runway toward the Coast Guard Base to the south. An expansion of the runway to the north would be devastating to the newly discovered plants, she said.
“They (the FAA) have this whole team of biologists and scientist who supposedly looked at this area,” she said. “They didn’t find the rare plants. That makes me wonder what else they might have missed.”
Studebaker wrote the FAA to tell the agency about the plant after her new discovery.
She has long been skeptical that an expansion toward the Buskin could be done without harming the river’s salmon run.
The FAA has been working on its environmental impact statement for the project since 2007. It recently announced it is going to push back its public release of a draft environmental impact study from fall 2010 to some time in the first half of 2011.
The sessileleaf scurvygrass is not considered an endangered species because so little is known about it. But it is in the category of rarest plants on the Alaska Natural Heritage Program rare vascular plant tracking list.
Mirror writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at