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Add Your Voice on Proposed Airport Sites

Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) Commercial Aviation Coordination Commission (CACC) is currently looking at potential sites for a new airport within 100 miles of Seattle to provide commercial and passenger air service in the coming decades. The CACC has generated a list of 10 potential sites that could meet their criteria.

Two proposed sites are located on sensitive land here in Skagit County

We need your help to get these two sites off the list quickly.

We ask that you write a comment before the end of August to:

CACC@wsdot.wa.gov

Your comments will be forwarded to the consultants and the CACC Commissioners. Scroll to the bottom for suggested messaging points.

The list of 10 will be pared down to the 2 top contenders on or before 10/15/22. We don’t want either of the Skagit County sites considered as a contender.

One site is north of Burlington, west of I-5 (Samish Flats); the other site is between La Conner and Mount Vernon, west of I-5 a (Fir Island/Skagit Flats). Both sites have vast amounts under conservation easements (CE’s) to protect agricultural land and open space, and both sites occupy some of the most environmentally sensitive fish and wildlife habitats in the Pacific Northwest.

Skagit Land Trust (the Trust) strongly believes the two Skagit locations were placed on the potential site list erroneously due to a lack of knowledge of the areas’ unique conservation and environmental factors. There are currently no sponsors for the Skagit sites- they were selected by consultants who are assisting the CACC.

Looking out over part of the proposed northen site.

To Learn More

Maps of the sites, as well as the presentation, are available through this link. The information is from the June 23 video recording of the CACC meeting. The Skagit maps themselves are at about 47 minutes in but are attached. We will update the situation as it progresses on our Take Action Page.

Timeline:

  • At any time, comments to CACC@wsdot.wa.gov can be submitted

  • For more information, contact Christina Crea, Communications (360-810-0902)

  • WA DOT will host a virtual open house from August 15th through September 9th. We will provide links on our website when available.

  • Virtual Public Meetings, where we believe the public can comment, will be held August 23rd and August 31st. We will provide links on our website when available.

What You Can Do

We ask that you write a comment between now and August 31 to

CACC@wsdot.wa.gov.

Your comments will be forwarded to the consultants and the CACC Commissioners. Scroll to the bottom for suggested messaging points.

The CACC aims to recommend a single preferred location for a new commercial service airport within 100 miles of Seattle, by June 15, 2023. This fall, they will narrow the 10 sites to 2 finalists. In addition to recommending a new primary commercial aviation facility, the commission will also recommend additional ways to accommodate capacity needs at other facilities.

Suggested Message Points:

The following are some areas we suggest you focus your comments, as these are areas the CACC considers. You do not need to do all these- simply submit a comment on why you think the Skagit sites should not be on the list:

Floodplain

  • Both sites sit in 100-year floodplains. (The NW airport site is 86% in the floodplain. The SW airport site is 96% in the floodplain.)

  • The Skagit is a large, dynamic river system and flood frequency and severity are predicted to increase over time.

  • The Samish site floods routinely.

  • Sea Level rise: Both sites are extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise over the next 100 years.

Property Acquisition

  • Both sites are blanketed in permanent conservation easements (CE’s), in place primarily to protect prime agricultural land and open space.

  • Other protected lands are paid for by state and federal public funds for wildlife conservation, agriculture and open space to conserve some of the most important fish and wildlife habitat in the western USA.

  • The majority of agricultural Conservation Easements are paid for by a conservation futures tax which are community tax dollars. This is a popular program.

  • Skagit has worked hard to keep its renown farmland intact - this goes counter to that. "Pavement is Forever".

  • CE’s can only be undone by eminent domain which would be extremely unpopular.

  • There is not space between the conserved lands in these areas to put in up to three 11,000 ft runways.

Environmental Factors

  • The Northern Puget Sound Lowlands account for 10% of the land in WA State yet 80% of all wintering waterfowl in WA are recorded here. This is a Critical Bird flyway.

  • Largest Trumpeter Swan wintering population in Washington.

  • Over 20,000 shorebirds on Padilla Bay mud flats in winter.

  • Critical area for Brant and in particular Western High Artic Brant.

  • Samish Flats known for its high and diverse number of wintering raptors.

  • Padilla and Samish Bays support one of the largest known wintering populations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) in North America.

  • Birds and very large airports don’t mix for safety reasons.

  • Skagit River system as a whole is in need of restoration, not more pavement and impervious surface.

  • Would add pollutants in nearby waters
    - Skagit River is most important river for native fish in Puget Sound

    - Padilla Bay, second largest eelgrass area in USA- critical for juvenile fish and for food sources of endangered Orcas

    - Samish River- clean water essential for oyster industry; Orcas eat salmon from this river as well

    - Skagit River major source of fresh water entering Puget Sound

Environmental Justice

  • Both Skagit and Samish sites are areas of significance for local Tribes and for the fish and wildlife they co-manage.

  • Population make-up of Mt Vernon and La Conner meets environmental justice concerns published by CACC.

  • Noise –much of this area already subject to Navy plane noise.

  • How would this site be compatible with the Navy air space?

Population Served from These Areas

  • Their studies show neither of these areas substantially help meet future passenger needs as so far from Seattle.

Summary: Do not pave the Magic Skagit. We are all working hard to protect it. Millions of dollars of private and public funds and much community effort have been spent here to do just that. This would undo decades of that work and unravel the green heartland between Seattle and Vancouver B.C.

Yellow shading indicates land covered by conservation easement resctrictions in the areas proposed for the airport sites. To the left is the Bow-Edison area and on the right is the Fir Island area.

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