Riverside County supervisors signed off Tuesday on an agreement with a Sacramento-based aviation services firm to assist the Economic Development Agency in implementing plans to mitigate wild animal incursions at French Valley, Hemet-Ryan and Thermal airports.
The $60,000 contract with Mead & Hunt, which the county has retained for similar work over the years, is intended to establish Wildlife Hazard Management plans for each of the county-owned and operated airfields.
The plans “will improve airport operations and enhance capacity and safety” and will be based on animal hazard assessments produced by Mead & Hunt last year, according to the EDA.
The assessments identified “frequently observed wildlife on or near the airports” that could disrupt aircraft operations and potentially create dangers to pilots and crews arriving and departing from any of the three, according to the agency.
All three airports receive fixed-wing propeller and jet traffic, as well as helicopters, on a regular basis. Hemet-Ryan serves as a Cal Fire port for firefighting aircraft during Southern California wildfire season, which generally spans May to November.
According to the agreement with Mead & Hunt, the company will be responsible for advising the county on what technologies are available to prevent wildlife encroachments, how ground crews can be more aware of the presence of certain species and safely remove them, and how not to violate state and federal regulations in the process.
Mead & Hunt will supply a biologist, aviation administration expert and other personnel to help establish the plans.
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