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Local airport hopes to receive money to keep wildlife off runway
ARBOR VITAE - Landing a plane safely comes with its fair share of difficulties.

For example, you have wind speeds, temperature, and visibility on your mind.

The last thing you want to worry about is an animal on the runway.

It's an ongoing issue at the Lakeland Airport in Arbor Vitae. But a fix could finally be on the way.

"It's almost like an animal farm out here," said Lakeland Airport Administrator Jon Schmitz.

Schmitz has been fighting for a fence to go around the airport's runway for over a decade.

"An 8 foot, maybe a ten foot fence with some feet on top [is what we want],"said Schmitz.

A fence would keep the majority of wildlife off of the runway. And Schmitz has seen it all.

"Some deer, coyotes, bear; we have all kinds of stuff," said Schmitz.

Most of the time, pilots can't even see the animals until it's too late.

Not only is it a mess to clean up, but it also can ruin airplanes and jets, along with putting people's lives in danger.
"It can do extensive damage," said Fixed-Base Operations Manager Angie Bishop.

Bishop says the airport has taken special steps to scare off animals like car horns, fireworks and flashing lights.

"Sometimes you can get them to scatter with the noise of the aircraft but they do become accustomed to it," said Bishop.

The original fencing plan was for the airport to pay for five percent of the fence, the state to pay for another five percent and the Federal Aviation Administration to pay the rest.

"They say they have the money but when the federal dollars come down all of a sudden there's a pecking order," said Schmitz.

For more than a decade, the Lakeland Airport and its need for a fence has been brushed aside for larger airports' needs.

But now, that money could finally be coming to the Lakeland Airport with a special some of money from the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics.

But once again, Schmitz might face more hurdles to get the fence.

"We heard that some of the bigger aircraft are looking hungrily at that special appropriation," said Schmitz.

If the Lakeland Airport has to split that money with other airports the fencing will have to be done in two phases.

If not, Schmitz plans to receive the money later this summer and will start construction next spring.

He estimates the cost will be between 1 and 1.5 million dollars.

Story By: Erin Beu


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