Conservationists worry over airport plan in Louisiana wildlife refuge

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GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) – A plan to build an airport in a Louisiana wildlife refuge has shocked conservationists who say it could harm important bird habitat on a coastline disappearing under encroaching Gulf of Mexico waters.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune quotes scientists worried about the plan in a Wednesday report.

An airport lease agreement proposing two runways, an air traffic control tower, a terminal and hangars was approved last month by the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The plan calls for paving over part of Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge to build a commercial airport servicing small jets and private planes.

Audubon Louisiana Director of Bird Conservation Erik Johnson says he doesn’t know of any refuge with an airport.

Wildlife and Fisheries department lead attorney Cole Garrett says officials will examine any environmental impact during the permitting process.

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