Air traffic controllers will be back at work but funds for Laconia airport fence could be in trouble

LACONIA — The recent move by the U.S. Congress to take Federal Aviation Administration money set aside for Airport Improvements and direct it toward putting air traffic controllers back to work could effect planned safety improvements at the Laconia Municipal Airport.
Manager Diane Cooper-Terrill said the application for completion of a wildlife fence around the airport is ready for submission to the FAA but she doesn't know if the money for the project will still be available.
"At this point we just don't know," she said, saying she hopes the airport hears something by summer but with sequestration and the FAA budget in a state of flux, she can't predict anything.
Cooper-Terrill said federal airport improvement money is typically allocated according to safety. The purpose of the $700,000 projects that includes a fence is to keep wildlife from straying on to the runway and potentially causing a collision with the aircraft that are landing or taking off.
This is part three of the airport improvement project and the fence will be specifically designed to prevent burrowing animals from tunneling under the barrier. She said burrowing animals like rabbits, moles and mice are ofter preyed upon by larger animals like bobcats and coyotes.
She also said Canadian Geese, turkey and ducks are a significant problem but not one that can be addressed by a fence.
A report completed last year indicated "aggressive harassment" like pyrotechnics, propane cannons, and electronic scarecrows can be utilized to reduce birds in the area.
The project will be largely funded by the FAA through and the state airport improvement fund.