Case Study

Stream Buffer Protection: Fulton County Airport Plans Defeated

By: Jason Ulseth

In 2011, the Fulton County Airport, also known as Charlie Brown Field, applied to the EPD for a variance to clear-cut 17 acres of vegetated stream buffer, as part of a larger plan to clear 150 acres surrounding the airport runways. The 25-foot, state-protected buffer is critical to filtering stormwater runoff, cooling waterways with shade, and providing food and habitat for wildlife. CRK appealed the variance issued by EPD because the county failed to include, and EPD failed to require, plans for mitigation that would have helped offset the loss of the critical buffer functions.

After filing a petition to appeal the variance, and initial settlement discussions, EPD decided to withdraw the variance it had issued in the late summer. The county airport has pledged to revise its clearing plans to minimize impacts in the buffers and include appropriate mitigation to offset any buffer impacts, while meeting Federal Aviation Administration regulations. CRK has been assured that we will be involved in any future attempt by the airport to seek a buffer variance.

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