Wetlands and Airports: A Surprisingly Effective Combination

When the airport was built in Santa Barbara, California, engineers dammed the surrounding wetlands to prevent flooding and to keep birds from gathering. A new restoration refutes those conclusions, and paves (or unpaves) the way for other airports.

Matt Kettmann reports that wildlife strikes (birds getting caught in plane engines and the like) cause significant damage and expense to planes, so engineers were concerned that restored wetlands would attract more birds:

"But in Santa Barbara, the experts argued that, with tidal flow, the larger and more dangerous migratory birds like Canadian geese and mallard ducks that congregate near standing seasonal ponds and fly across the runways would be replaced by smaller shorebirds that stick closer to the ground. To the surprise of many, the FAA was willing to let the science lead the way."

Full Story: Could Tidal Flow Fix Your Airport?

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