Supervisor Foley Highlights Fly Friendly Program Environmental Benefits with Tree Planting Ceremony in Newport Beach

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From left to right: Newport Beach Council Member Joy Brenner, Lisa Swanson with Surfrider Foundation, Airport Commissioner Sue Dvorak, and Supervisor Katrina Foley plant a Coast Live Oak tree near the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center in Newport’s Back Bay. Photo Credit: Lily Fassnacht

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley held a tree-planting ceremony at the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center in Newport Beach’s Back Bay.to announce Fly Friendly, the new education and community outreach program designed to reduce noise and pollution, with community leaders and aviation stakeholders.

Fly Friendly is the outcome of close collaboration between Supervisor Foley’s office, community members and general aviation operators.

“Fly Friendly is an opportunity for private operators to work collaboratively with John Wayne Airport and the community to quiet the skies over neighborhoods while greening up the airport and the surrounding area,” said Supervisor Foley. “With eight schools and thousands of residents under the flight path, county government has an obligation to do our part and be good stewards to protect our environment and ensure families can enjoy our open space.”

By launching Fly Friendly, Foley said “we are taking the first step to reduce noise and pollution caused by general aviation flights. Our new airport director is committed to working with our office on a climate action plan for the airport, and we will continue exploring innovative opportunities for new sustainable technologies to allow for cleaner skies and healthier communities.”

The Fly Friendly program seeks to address the increase in noise and pollution for communities surrounding the airport through educating general aviation operators on adopting best flight departure procedures and practices for quieter, cleaner flights. Operators can also donate to the Newport Bay Conservancy, which supports the Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center, or Irvine Ranch Conservancy to help fund native plant farms, build an urban canopy through tree plantings, and support healthy, biologically-diverse ecosystems, which contribute towards cleaner air, water, and recreational areas.

The tree planted in last week’s ceremony was a Coast Live Oak tree, which is native to Orange County. Growing as high as 30 to 160 feet, oak trees are some of the most important plants in our ecosystem, serving as a home to many kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, and even butterflies.

Due to the 1985 Settlement Agreement, John Wayne Airport has one of the most stringent aircraft noise monitoring programs in the United States, but the agreement only applies to commercial flights – not the small planes or private operators in General Aviation causing an increase in flights, noise, and pollution.

“Thank you to everyone involved in the creation of this innovative program aimed at responding to community needs and strengthening our local pilots’ commitment to caring for their neighbors. Our goal is to publicize this data monthly, which will provide the public more access to flight noise information than in any other airport in the country,” added Foley.

Fly Friendly relies on data from a new software platform to input data from the Airport’s noise monitoring system and track flight patterns while scoring program participants. The Fly Friendly scoring program allows the County to recognize outstanding operators while educating those who may not know about the impacts of their flight patterns on neighborhood pollution.

Over the first year, the program will also award points to operators who contribute up to $4,500 per calendar year to the Irvine Ranch Conservancy or Newport Bay Conservancy in support of ecological restoration and habitat enhancement projects.

Operators will be awarded points based on the four following voluntary actions:

  1. Quietest Departures (Quiet Departure Noise Score, Minimum Higher Noise Event Score, Quietest Fleet Score, All Quiet Departure Score)
  2. Night Noise Reduction (Quiet Nighttime Hours Score)
  3. Stewardship Sustainability Bonus: Contributing toward ecological and habitat restoration projects through the Irvine Ranch Conservancy or Newport Bay Conservancy.
  4. Most Engaging Bonus: Educating pilots on noise reduction options by distributing Fly Friendly toolkit materials or attending any Orange County community meetings focused on aviation impacts

To learn more about Fly Friendly, visit www.ocair.com/FlyFriendly.

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