Can Rare Woodpecker Halt Airport Project?

Airport officials are pressing ahead with plans for a new airport at West Bay. And it doesn't seem like much can get in their way.

So, is it possible that one single woodpecker could stop the project? A team of researchers from Auburn University says it should.

Last month the team said it found evidence that endangered Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers were thriving in a remote swamp in northwest Florida.

Researchers spotted the bird along the Choctawhatchee river, 19 miles from the proposed 4-thousand acre airport site in West Bay. This has environmentalists scrambling to protect the lands.

Jason Rylander says the Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council sent a letter to the F-A-A, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service.

"All we're saying in the letter is before spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars on a new airport near where they've sited the ivory-billed woodpecker, the federal agencies need to examine the potential impact on the ivory bill and its habitats."

Rylander says federal agencies should consider both the direct and indirect effects of the project. Not just the impact of the airport itself, but the effects of future development and flight patterns.


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