Tuesday, August 23, 2011

23 August 2011 FAA Email Update from Leslie Grey

 As you are probably aware, I and many of my co-workers in FAA’s Airports
Division, in Alaska and nation-wide, were part of the approximately 4,000
workforce that was temporarily furloughed.  The furlough affected a number
of Alaska projects, including the Kodiak Airport EIS.  The full impact of
the work disruption on the EIS and other projects is hard to determine, but
it certainly isn’t always limited to just a delay in schedule.  Resources
may get shifted to other priorities, contractors and consultants have to
adapt their manpower allocations, contingency plans may have to be prepared
to shut down work and, once a furlough is over, it takes extra time and
energy to get back project momentum.  The good news is, because their costs
are allocated through a previously committed grant managed by Alaska
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF), our
consulting team had some funding to continue work while I was away from the
office.  However, even the consultant’s work had to be somewhat limited in
scope, primarily because at the time of furlough FAA staff was pushing to
complete our comprehensive re-examination of runway safety alternatives.
The consultants can’t go very far with their efforts until FAA decides
which alternatives will be carried through a detailed analysis of possible
environmental impacts.  Although we still haven’t completed our analysis,
involving personnel from both Alaska Region and FAA headquarters with
critical input from ADOT&PF, Alaska Airlines, and U.S. Coast Guard, I can
report that the range of alternatives to be included in the Draft EIS will
be substantially different than was initially presented in the Preliminary
Draft EIS.  More will be forthcoming on that subject in the near future.
On a different note.  You may remember that after we had distributed the
Preliminary Draft EIS and received comments from reviewing agencies, Stacy
Studebaker, a biologist and Kodiak resident, alerted us to the presence of
a potentially rare plant in the vicinity of the Airport.  The
sessile-leaved scurvy grass (Cochlearia sessilifolia) was found in the
Buskin River estuary in late summer 2010.  The sessile-leaved scurvy grass
is not a federally listed species, and there are no state protections for
the species, but it is listed on the Alaska Rare Plant List by the Alaska
Natural Heritage Program.  The Heritage rank for Cochlearia sessilifolia (
G1G2Q/S1S2) means the species is considered either critically imperiled or
imperiled at both a global and state geographic level.
During our meetings earlier this year and in other communications, a number
of you encouraged FAA to undertake a more thorough investigation for the
presence and distribution of sessile-leaf scurvy grass in the area on or
around the Kodiak Airport.  The EIS consultants will be conducting surveys
for this plant later in August, in the EIS project area as well as in
surrounding suitable habitats within Chiniak Bay. Other potentially rare
plant species may be found in the project area, such as the Oriental
Popcornflower (Plagiobothrys orientalis) and the Alaska Mistmaiden (
Romazoffia unalaschkensis), and the surveys will document these and other
species of interest that may be found.
I hope this information is helpful.  Please don’t hesitate to call
(271-5453) or write (Leslie.Grey@faa.gov) if you have questions or comments
or just want to talk about the EIS.
Thanks very much,
Leslie Grey
Environmental Protection Specialist
FAA - Alaskan Region, Airports Division