The Port of Astoria will spend $266,220 on 1.5 acres of wetland mitigation credits from Warrenton Fiber at the headwaters of the John Day River to offset the environmental impacts of a taxiway relocation at Astoria Regional Airport.
The Port will cover the purchase with cash reserves. The Federal Aviation Administration will reimburse the Port 90 percent of the cost through a grant.
The Port is in the permitting phase of a project to realign a taxiway on the southern side of runway 8-26 and bring the World War II-era airport up to FAA’s geometric standards. Permitting and construction are mostly funded by FAA grants.
“In order to get through the planning and permitting phase, we need to have the credits in hand,” Gary Kobes, the Port’s airport manager, told the Port Commission on Tuesday.
Wetland mitigation credits are required to offset development affecting wetlands.
Typically, the purchase of credits doesn’t happen until the construction phase, Kobes said. But the relocation of the taxiway is expected to impact Vera Slough, a tidal inlet winding from Youngs Bay south along the western edge of the airport, triggering an environmental assessment.
Warrenton Fiber in 2012 breached a dike on Claremont Road near the John Day River, replacing it and a tidal gate with a bridge and inundating about 50 acres of land upstream. The project also entailed converting an invasive-dominated plant community to a native, freshwater tidal wetland.