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Impact statement delayed on new Idaho airport

A draft environmental impact statement on building a new airport in central Idaho scheduled for release at the end of this month is being delayed to address concerns about wildlife habitat, Federal Aviation Administration officials say.
The FAA announced the week of May 23 that state and federal wildlife officials have asked it to look more closely at how a new airport could affect wildlife, pushing the document’s release date to late summer or early fall.
“We are continuing to further refine the analysis,” FAA spokeswoman Cayla Morgan told the Idaho Mountain Express. “The agency wants the analysis to be as thorough as possible when we release the document for comment.”
The document is expected to consider everything from wildlife and noise, to floodplains and historic and tribal resources.
Two sites in southern Blaine County have been selected as possible locations for a new airport to replace Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey. The favored site is east of state Highway 75 just north of the Lincoln County line. The second possible site is along the county line separating Blaine and Camas counties.
Federal officials say the current airport has to be moved because of expanding residential areas and high hills that make the airport too dangerous. Bad weather can also cause flights to divert to other regional airports.
“This is a U.S. government study,” said Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen. “It’s not our study, and I’m sure they want to do a very thorough job.”
He said he was frustrated with the delay, but it could end up helping the process.
“The fact that it’s going to take longer is not a bad thing, per se, because there’s lots of other work that needs to be done,” Schoen said.

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