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Michigan residents upset over airport tree removals

Posted at 3:08 PM, Feb 26, 2018

Some northern Michigan residents are upset that trees in their community are being removed to accommodate an airport runway expansion.

The Cherry Capital Airport renovations in Traverse City have increased the runway space to more than 7,000 feet, The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported .

The extension will allow for planes to fill more seats on hot summer days when thinner air provides less lift, said Kevin Klein, the airport's director. Some trees had to be cut because of their height, he said.

"We didn't want to cut down more trees than we had to, so we worked with getting new easements in place," Klein said.

Tree cutting began in December and should conclude this weekend. Contractors will then remove stumps and restore turf. Residents who lost trees were paid and will be allowed to replant ones that don't grow as tall.

Area resident Michael Mariage said the area used to be "gorgeous" before the trees were removed.

A few residents complained about the cuttings when they began, but complaints subsided after property owners reached easement agreements with airport officials, said Chuck Korn, the township's supervisor.

"It's tough to lose a lot of 40-, 50-year-old trees that kind of defined the area," Korn said. "When you drive through the area, it's pretty shocking from what it used to be."

Jamie Reed's property is also near airport-owned land. Some of the trees that were removed were diseased or dead, so the cuttings did have some positive effects, she said. Reed said she plans to plant a vegetable garden in the summer in place of the trees.