PDX Tree Obstruction Removal Project begins

by Lisa Timmerman 9/26/2013 9:50 AM

This week, the Port began work on the first phase of a project to remove cottonwood trees growing beneath federally-regulated airspace at Portland International Airport. The site will ultimately be replanted with lower-growing, native plants. Although this first phase of tree removal took only a few days, the project is the culmination of years of planning.

Portland has a well-deserved reputation as a tree-loving city, from the iconic Forest Park to the steadfast efforts of local nonprofit, Friends of Trees. Cutting down trees is not something we take lightly. The Port was faced with a decision that was absolutely necessary to keep PDX operational well into the future.

The stand of cottonwood trees in question is located in a vegetated area within the economy parking lots. The trees lie below the regulated airspace for approaches and departures from PDX’s north runway. The trees were not yet to the point where they posed a flight safety risk, but they were beginning to penetrate other types of Federal Aviation Administration regulated airspace surrounding the flight paths. These areas are protected to prevent interference with instruments that guide approaching planes and to provide safe paths for planes should they experience mechanical difficulties.

The issue of trees encroaching on the airspace near the north runway has long been identified as a conflict that would eventually need to be addressed. In 2000, the trees were topped, providing an estimated 10-year window of protection for the airspace. Unfortunately, this was not a long-term solution. Topping trees compromises their health, making them hazardous to work around. Therefore, additional topping was not a viable option.

When master planning for PDX began through the Airport Futures process in 2007, removing the cottonwood trees in the economy lot was identified as an essential project to keep the airport operational well into the future. The Airport Futures process allowed the Port to work with the City of Portland and other stakeholders to develop a replanting plan that reflects the site’s status as an environmental zone and provides a sustainable, long-term solution that protects flight safety at PDX. When the site is replanted next fall, the trees will be replaced with more than 23,000 native shrub and small tree species such as vine maple, Oregon grape, red-flowering currant and native roses and willow. They will be planted around existing, lower-growing species of trees and shrubs that were left untouched.

While the loss of these trees is unfortunate, we have been able to complete the project in a way that was both as minimally invasive as possible and allows reuse of some of the logs and stumps for mitigation projects. The logging contractor hired by the Port used state-of-the-art equipment and technology to remove the trees, reducing the impact on the site and the amount of time during which the logging activity took place. Some of the logs cut for the project are being reserved to create turtle basking features at Port mitigation sites and some stumps will serve as large woody debris to create nearshore habitat.

The project is planned in phases to minimize site disturbance during wet weather months and to maximize the survivability of the new plants. It will take a little over a year for the site to be replanted and longer for it to become well-established. We will keep you posted on the site’s progress over time. 

 Artist's renderings of the site replanted with low-growing, native vegetation.

 

 

Port and Portland State University celebrate 10 years of success and innovation

by Lisa Timmerman 6/12/2013 4:19 PM

It takes a special kind of person to be willing to dig through the garbage on a regular basis. Thanks to a partnership with Portland State University, this week marks the tenth year that those special people have been making a difference at Portland International Airport. Through PSU’s Community Environmental Services program, student consultants work for the Port of Portland in one- or two-year terms and work alongside Port staff to gain experience solving real-life waste management problems. Although they serve all Port facilities, they focus on the Port’s primary waste generator - PDX. The airport is like a small city with 10,000 employees and 35,000 people passing through every day. It's a unique setting for developing innovative and creative waste solutions on a large-scale.

Through the students' long-standing support, the Port has made incredible strides in reducing waste. They have played a large role in designing and implementing PDX’s waste collection systems and composting program. They have been involved in researching recycling options for coffee cups, conducting waste assessments for airlines and airport terminal tenants and holding annual clean up events for tenants to find ways to recycle and repurpose large and bulky items. Most recently, the students helped launch a highly successful food donation program through St. Vincent dePaul of Portland and helped redesign liquid collection stations at security checkpoints, dramatically increasing their use by travelers.

The partnership truly provides benefits for both the Port and PSU students. “I attribute the longevity and success of this program to two things: the Port’s impressive commitment to keep pushing the needle forward on these issues, and the great students that CES continues to attract. I can’t think of a better embodiment of PSU’s motto, 'Let Knowledge Serve the City,'" says Eric T. Crum, director of the CES program.

Although the program has been in place for many years, there is no typical day for a CES student working at the Port. They do everything from collecting and managing data, to running outreach and education campaigns, to rolling their sleeves up and conducting waste sorts that determine where there are opportunities for program improvements. Their versatility is invaluable and we look forward to another ten years of success and collaboration.

For more information on the partnership between PSU and the Port and a full list of the students’ accomplishments, visit: www.pdx.edu

For additional news on the partnership's anniversary, visit:
PDX.edu
Oregon Live

Celebrate World Environment Day with the PDX Sustainability Tour

by Lisa Timmerman 5/13/2013 12:49 PM

World Environment Day is Wednesday, June 5 and Portland has been selected as the 2013 North American host city. To celebrate this great honor bestowed by the United Nations, there are many great events happening all over Portland leading up to the big day.

The Port will host a walking tour of Portland International Airport and portions of our LEED Platinum headquarters building on World Environment Day. Join us and learn about the many sustainability solutions in place at PDX. Whether it's reducing waste or our carbon footprint, providing alternate transportation options or using natural systems to treat wastewater onsite, there's a lot to be proud of at Portland's gateway to the world. The PDX Sustainability Tour will take place June 5 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. To RSVP or for more information, email lisa.timmerman@portofportland.com.

Less Waste, More Food

by Lisa Timmerman 4/4/2013 1:10 PM

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report released last year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. The statistic is particularly alarming considering the amount of people that go hungry every day. Port of Portland staff recognized an opportunity in our own backyard and recently launched a food donation program, facilitating partnership between St. Vincent de Paul and concessionaires at Portland International Airport. The program encourages food and beverage vendors in the airport terminal to divert unsold, ready-to-eat food products to the local charitable organization. Products include sandwiches, salads, parfaits, baked goods and uncut produce.

The program launched in February and PDX concessionaires donated so much food that by the end of the first pickup day on February 5th, the Port and St. Vincent's staff needed to round up a second donation storage refrigerator. In the first two months of collection, donations weighed in at 2,760 pounds of food - equivalent to more than 1,830 meals. The food ends up with social service providers City Team Ministries, Northwest Family Services and St. Vincent's mobile full-service kitchen.

"This is a win-win for local communities in need and for the airport, too," said Walt Marchbanks, Port concessions operations manager.

Not only is the program matching high quality food with agencies that can distribute it, it's removing food items that serve a higher and better purpose from the waste stream at PDX. In 2012, PDX collected a record 201 tons of food waste for composting. By continuing to donate at least 50 to 100 pounds of high quality food to St. Vincent’s three times a week, the program could divert 5 to 10 percent of what would have ultimately ended up in the compost stream.

 

Supreme Committee visits Port HQ

by Lisa Timmerman 3/1/2013 9:57 AM

The Port of Portland received a visit last week from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee during their U.S. trade mission to the West Coast. The committee is responsible for planning infrastructure improvements for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and plans to renovate three stadiums and build nine new stadiums, open a new international airport, expand its container port facility and expand its light rail and highway systems ahead of the event.

The delegation was led by U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Susan L. Ziadeh and Qatar Secretary General, Hassan Al-Thawadi. The group also visited Los Angeles and Seattle. Other stops during their stay in Portland included Nike and Jeld-Wen Field.

While at Port headquarters, the group toured our LEED Platinum building to learn more about its energy and water saving features, like our Living Machine®. Executive Director Bill Wyatt described Port operations in general and discussed the Port's sustainability efforts including parking guidance and QuickPay parking payment system that help reduce emissions from idling vehicles. The group, which had many questions even at the end of a long day touring Portland, was particularly interested in what drives the culture around sustainability in Portland. 

 

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (some sporting their Portland Timbers scarves) with Port Executive Director Bill Wyatt and Jennifer Woods, U.S. Department of Commerce

Related Links

Deicing program gets warm reception

by Lisa Timmerman 2/22/2013 3:09 PM

The Port of Portland was honored with an Environmental Achievement Award at the annual Slough Celebration, put on by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. The award recognizes Portland International Airport's deicing program for its efforts to provide greater protection to the Columbia Slough water quality.

The Port installed PDX's original deicing collection system in 2003, which used a combination of monitoring, collection, treatment and controlled release of deicing stormwater runoff to the slough and City of Portland sanitary system. Though deicing material does not contain toxic substances, when it is released in large volumes and begins to biodegrade, it can cause increases in biological oxygen demand, which can be harmful to fish. When low flows in the slough contributed to permit exceedances, the Port sought out more aggressive options for treating deicing stormwater runoff. The Port constructed an on-site deicing treatment facility, one of only three of its kind in the nation, that uses microorganisms to break down deicing solution. The newly constructed facility completed a successful commissioning period in April 2012 and is now fully operational for the 2012-2013 winter season.

The Port's deicing program was nominated by Nancy Hendrickson, Columbia Slough watershed manager for the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. The Port has been involved with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for many years.

Bruce McClelland, Port of Portland deicing operations manager describes the significant benefits of the deicing program enhancements.

Receiving the Environmental Achievement Award; From left: Nancy Hendrickson, Columbia Slough watershed manager for the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Jane Van Dyke, Columbia Slough Watershed Council executive director and the Port deicing program team - George Seaman, engineering project manager, Susan Aha, deicing program manager, Larry McClure, deicing system specialist and Bruce McClelland, deicing operations manager.

(Photos courtesy of Kenny MacDonald and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council)

PDX leads the pack in bike access

by Lisa Timmerman 1/31/2013 2:36 PM

We are quite proud of our bike facilities here at Portland International Airport, but who doesn't like a little validation? PDX was featured in a study completed through the University of California Transportation Center and the Safe Transportation Research & Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley that looked at obstacles and opportunities for airport operators to improve bike access. The report included case studies of seven airports, and recognized PDX as "exemplary" due to its bike and pedestrian master planning efforts, convenient access, facilities that support bike commuting and connections with transit, bike routes and multi-modal trails.

California bike blog, Cyclist Chic, offers a great overview of the study. See the Safe Transportation Research & Education Center's website for the full study and a poster with highlights from the study. The Port of Portland first developed a Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan in 2003 and an update to the plan will be completed this year.

 

NextGen helps PDX flights lower emissions, minimize noise

by Lisa Timmerman 12/26/2012 3:54 PM

If you flew into PDX this holiday season, it's possible you may have been on a flight starting to use new technology in their final approach to the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration published flight approach procedures for its Next Generation Air Transportation System, also known as NextGen, in September. The satellite-based aircraft navigation system is gradually replacing the nation's legacy ground-based equipment network and is designed to help pilots fly existing routes more precisely. 

The new system brings multiple benefits. NextGen technology gives pilots the ability to fly an optimized profile descent, also known as a continuous descent approach. The approach enables the aircraft to maintain a continuous descent from the point of initial descent to the runway using a lower power setting and higher altitude for less noise and less fuel, thus reducing air emissions.

“From helping us minimize aircraft noise, to reducing aircraft carbon emissions, NextGen has numerous benefits for PDX and our community,” said Jason Schwartz, Port of Portland noise management manager. “We have many to thank for helping bring NextGen to PDX, including the FAA, the PDX Citizen Noise Advisory Committee, Alaska Air Group, Southwest Airlines and SkyWest Airlines.”

Procedures at PDX for using satellite-based technology for departures have been in place since 2008 and have proven successful in helping aircraft follow noise abatement routes. Most commercial aircraft using PDX are equipped with the advance avionics in the cockpit needed for NextGen navigation. Early estimates show that 10-20 percent of flights will use new NextGen arrivals procedures initially, and others will phase in over time. Next spring, the FAA plans to release arrival procedures, which will guide aircraft that are further out from the airport. 

For more information about how innovation and technology are yielding environmental and community benefits in the aviation industry, check out FAA Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt's discussion on the topic.

Our avian visitor

by Lisa Timmerman 12/4/2012 4:44 PM

Port of Portland employees working out of our headquarters building have been treated to an up close and personal viewing of a barn owl over the last couple of days. The owl first appeared roosting on the window ledge on the south side of the building on Friday morning and has been spotted at a few different locations around the building since then. Take a look at a few of the great photos our staff were able to snap of our visitor.

According to The Raptor Institute, barn owls are one of the most widespread species of birds in the world. Birds can naturally be attracted to the open spaces at Portland International Airport, where our headquarters building is located, and we use a proactive Wildlife Management Program, to help prevent conflicts between birds and aircraft that utilize the facility.

       

Port participates in Airports Going Green

by Lisa Timmerman 11/30/2012 1:46 PM

The Port of Portland was honored to receive an award at the fifth annual Airports Going Green Conference in November. The conference is sponsored by the American Association of Airport Executives and the City of Chicago Department of Aviation. The Port competed against a field of airports across the world to receive accolades for our LEED Platinum Headquarters Building. In addition, Port project engineering lead, Dan Gilkison participated in a panel of presentations discussing the link between building design and human health. Airports Going Green encourages the aviation industry to use innovation to lead by example and face the challenge of protecting our environment for future generations.

Related Links:

Airports Going Green

Port of Portland Headquarters