The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority submitted a Riparian Buffer Authorization Form to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today. This Form seeks permission from DEQ to install portions of the proposed perimeter security fence within existing Neuse River Riparian Buffers. As part of the Authority’s ongoing commitment to keeping the public informed about the fencing project, we would like to explain why it is necessary for RDU to proceed with the filing of this form at this time.
The Riparian Buffer Authorization is yet another step in the process of gathering information that can be presented to the Airport Authority’s Board of Directors before a future vote on whether to approve the fence installation proposal. In a recent letter to the Airport Authority, DEQ confirmed that bikers using illegal trails on airport land have damaged the Neuse River buffer and urged that “…an agreement be expedited to the extent possible so that the ongoing environmental impacts can be addressed and resolved long-term.”
It is important to point out that not all property owned by the government is open to the public. The General Assembly gave the Airport Authority complete control over airport property and operations and the land is subject to various federal restrictions about how it can be used. That is why the “No Trespassing” signs, which have been ignored by bikers and hikers for decades, were posted by the Authority. At a time when projects such as the expansion of the Economy 3 parking lot and construction of a new remote rental car parking lot create the need to use the airport property where bikers and hikers access the illegal trails, RDU must make an investment in airport security and public safety to ensure there is no further environmental damage to airport property.
No final decision has been made about when the fencing proposal will be brought to the Board of Directors. At this time, RDU is simply seeking the required buffer authorizations from DEQ before the fence installation can begin. RDU will continue to work with DEQ and other state agencies to answer any questions, and may seek additional permits prior to installation of the fence, in our continued efforts to enhance airport security, keep trespassers off airport property and prevent further environmental damage.