No. The project will be funded by Sugar Land Regional Airport. The Airport is a self-supporting business that does not utilize general fund tax dollars.
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The FAA identified a significant number of obstructions to the safe operation of landing aircraft at Sugar Land Regional Airport and notified us that the obstructions required removal.
The height of the trees has created dangerous conditions for aircraft approaching and/or departing north of the runway.
The 6.7 acres were mostly empty when the city purchased the Airport in 1990. Since then, fast-growing invasive species such as Hackberry and Chinese Tallows have overgrown the area.
The FAA recently renewed its focus on General Aviation airports and notified us of the safety requirement.
The Sugar Land Regional Airport commissioned an engineering firm to complete a ground and aerial survey to quantify tree height and penetration distance into the approach airspace.
The majority of the trees would die if they were pruned to a safe obstruction height due to the removal of significantly more than 25% of the green foliage. Any that remained would quickly grow back.
The Sugar Land Regional Airport consulted with arborists and wildlife experts and determined that the least impactful timeframe for migratory and nesting species would allow for the removal this January and February.
Additionally, Cullinan Park includes 754 acres of dense tree canopy. The remaining 747.3 acres will continue to be home to numerous wildlife species.
The existing canopy at Cullinan Park is too dense to relocate these trees. Most of the trees are non-native invasive species. Lower growing native grasses and screening shrubs will be planted in place of the removals, which also offer habitat for birds and other wildlife.
The Airport is working with the City of Sugar Land Parks Department and the Cullinan Park Conservancy Board to design something that is compatible with the safe operation of aircraft and that is sustainable, maintainable and meets the intent of both the park and airport.
No. The tree removals are unrelated to the more than $1.2 million in ongoing improvements at Cullinan Park that will provide the community with additional parking, walking, and jogging opportunities in nature while preserving existing native hardwood trees. However, the cleared property will be replaced with vegetation that complements ongoing park improvements.
In addition to the FAA and an aviation consultant, we have worked closely with the Cullinan Park Conservancy and the certified arborists in our Parks and Recreation Department.
Monitoring the obstructions will be a continuous project. However, the hope is that anything in the future will be more pruning instead of removal.
Sugar Land Regional Airport is an important part of the regional economy, with more than $96 million in economic output each year and more than $69.9 million to the property tax rolls, funding services provided by both Fort Bend County and Fort Bend Independent School District. The Airport has 211 on-site airport-related jobs and is used by more than 100 Fortune 500 companies on a regular basis, and serves the needs of the local general aviation community.
Sugar Land Regional Airport is the primary reliever airport for Houston Hobby Airport (HOU). If aircraft couldn’t land on our Runway, the vast majority of our jet traffic would be routed to Hobby Airport, causing significant congestion and delays to commercial flights.
In January 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Airport staff of the obstructions on the phone and in writing.
The FAA originally identified 150 trees and provided an exhibit of their approximate locations; however, they were using data from a limited ground survey. The Airport conducted a thorough aerial and ground survey to verify and locate each tree and obtain tree information to create a scope of work for a project and set a budget. The survey results revealed far more trees in the same area the FAA identified. After exploring further, it was determined that for each “tree” the FAA identified, there were actually 3-4 trees. This was due to the limited survey and dense Park. We now call the 150 trees “Points of Obstruction.” If you compare the exhibit the FAA provided to the project scope of work, the identical areas the FAA identified as obstructions are the same areas we are removing. The Airport is not unnecessarily removing 434 trees.