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1,000 Trees Being Removed From Nut Tree Airport For Safety Reasons

VACAVILLE (CBS13) - A potential safety issue at Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville has resulted in the removal of 1,000 trees. The plan was approved by the board of supervisors on Tuesday, and work has already begun.

Nut Tree Airport manager Dave Daly says the removal is critical and has been in the works for years. Daly is certain that by taking away this existing hazard, it will provide for safer flying experiences for pilots and the public.

Pilot Alan Johnson has been flying out of Nut Tree Airport for about eight months and has certainly noticed a red flag. Johnson, who was checking on his Piper Cherokee Warrior on Wednesday, says the trees that line the runway can threaten the pilots' ability to land.

"As you come in to land, you may be experiencing winds in one direction, but when you get low enough to the tree level, you can experience winds in the opposite direction or a change in the winds which obviously can create a problem for landing," said Johnson.

Johnson says the trees can also obscure vision.

"While the pilots can see the runway, other pilots that are maybe on the taxiway or in the run-up area getting prepared to take off don't always see the incoming traffic until about 1/2 mile out," he said.

The airport has been working with the four affected property owners including the city of Vacaville, Solano County, Solano Community College and the Jimmy Doolittle Center.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires the removal of the trees as they pose a safety risk for pilots. The removal will also put the airport in compliance with state standards and county airspace protection policies.

The airport is contracting with Solano County Water Agency to mitigate for removing eucalyptus trees.

"We're planting close to 5,000 trees to make up for the trees they're removing to provide habitat on Punta Creek about 15 miles north of here," says Rich Marovich of the Solano County Water district.

Most of the trees being removed are non-native eucalyptus trees, with some fruit, ornamentals, and oak trees.

The new native habitat will be a much better environment for the threatened Swainson's Hawk, a state-listed species. The Hawks are looking for structure (tall trees) but their nesting success is better in native trees to which they are adapted.

The tree removal will likely take four to six weeks. The replanting will start in the fall.

Meanwhile, the airport is closed for about a week and a half as they do runway repairs.

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