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No-fly zone

As a crow flies, the proposed Red River Valley Regional Landfill near Gilby, N.D., and Grand Forks Air Force Base are seven miles apart. As the correspondence travels between the two parties, logistically, they're separated by another five to 13 ...

As a crow flies, the proposed Red River Valley Regional Landfill near Gilby, N.D., and Grand Forks Air Force Base are seven miles apart.

As the correspondence travels between the two parties, logistically, they're separated by another five to 13 miles.

And unless they narrow that distance, or come to some other agreement on wildlife management, the landfill project might be stalled.

"If the Air Force doesn't approve, I don't think we can recommend approval," County Planner Lane Magnuson told the Grand Forks County Commission on Tuesday.

"There's a dialogue going on. It's still early in the process," he said.

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In a letter dated Feb. 9 to the county planning and zoning department, the Air Force said the proposed landfill should be at least 12 miles north or south and beyond eight miles east or west from the base.

The proposed site, about seven miles directly north of the air base, is being developed by Paul Sproule and John and Jack Scott.

"The base's Facility Board, chaired by the installation commander, does not concur with the proposed landfill site located directly north of the runway due to potential bird aircraft strike hazards," wrote Mary Giltner, base civil engineer. "At that location, aircraft would be between 2,100 feet and 1,400 feet above ground level, which would put aircraft directly into bird circling flight paths."

The Air Force also recommended that any future landfill be beyond eight nautical miles east or west of the base, "to ensure compatibility with the base's flying mission."

Based on the Air Force minimum distance recommendations, that would place any future landfill no closer to the base than about:

-- Three miles east of Inkster, to the northwest.

-- Three miles southeast of Ardoch, to the northeast.

-- Five miles west of Thompson, N.D., to the southeast.

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-- One mile north of Northwood, N.D., to the southwest.

Landfill developers responded last week by submitting a wildlife management plan for the proposed Gilby Township facility, located adjacent to a wetland area, preferred habitat for waterfowl and other species.

The plan says the majority of municipal solid waste accepted at the landfill will be in baled form, which should minimize the odors and make waste less accessible to vectors and scavengers.

"The presence of any waterfowl, gulls or raptors on the RRVRL site will constitute grounds for implementation of control measures," the plan states.

Wildlife mitigation measures implemented would be restricted by applicable federal, state and local regulations, according to the plan.

Measures include:

-- Harassment, including dispersal of cracker shells.

-- Kill tactics, as allowed by applicable regulations and permits.

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"The use of any pesticides to regulate wildlife populations will be strictly limited due to the inherent difficulty in limiting the affected species and numbers," the plan states.

"The taking of wildlife using firearms may be implemented under certain circumstances."

The plan will be submitted to the following agencies for review and concurrence prior to implementation:

-- North Dakota Department of Health.

-- North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

-- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

-- Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office.

Magnuson said he has not received a response to the landfill wildlife management plan from the Air Force, but he expects the correspondence to continue.

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