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Extension to offer grass airstrip workshop

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902

08/10/09

Flying rocks from gravel airstrips often dent propellers and cause other damage to small planes.

With a goal of improving aviation safety, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will offer its first workshop on establishing and maintaining grass airstrips in Alaska. Stephen Brown, an agriculture and horticulture agent from Palmer, will lead a free workshop Aug. 18 from 2-4 p.m. at the Mat-Su/Copper River District office in Palmer at 809 S. Chugach St., Suite 2.

Brown says that a properly designed, managed and maintained grass airstrip can greatly reduce rock damage. His recommendations are based on aviation turf research from the Matanuska Experiment Farm and a demonstration runway developed last fall in Talkeetna. Extension and the experiment farm seeded hardy Alaska turf grass directly on gravel, saving the airstrip owner the cost of hauling in expensive topsoil.

"He's got the most beautiful runway you can imagine," said Brown.

Brown said the Talkeetna airstrip has drawn interest from other pilots who want to develop grass airstrips at a low cost. The workshop, which is geared to small, private runway owners, will cover runway preparation, proper grass selection, establishment techniques, fertilizer strategies, and soil sampling and interpretation. Brown said participants and others interested in developing grass runways may receive free technical assistance from Extension.

Workshop participants with planes may fly into the Palmer Municipal Airport and get a free ride to the office. Registration is requested. For more information or to register, call Brown at 907-745-3639 or e-mail ffscb2@uaf.edu.

CONTACT: Stephen Brown, agriculture and horticulture agent, at 907-745-3639 or ffscb2@uaf.edu. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.

DC/8-10-09/0312-10