SISTERS, OR -- After months of opposition from residents, Sisters Eagle Airport was approved this week for a state designation allowing skydiving operations to continue. Listing the airport on "Appendix M" protects all historical and current uses at the facility. The decision came shortly after a hearing with Oregon’s Department of Aviation in Salem, Tuesday.
One concerned citizen says she had hoped the board would delay its decision until the City Council or County Commissioners could act on noise complaints. "Once the designation was granted, all those uses become statutorily protected and that leaves the city and the county out of the picture." She spoke with KBND News on condition of anonymity.
She's a member of the grassroots group "Save Our Skies," and says the noise from air-tourism flights impact residents from Black Butte to Metolius, especially those who live closest to the airport. "It is a deafening roar, at which time all conversation has to stop inside and outside the house; the birds stop singing. We have some people who try to do business from home and they say they can’t conduct telephone meetings when a plane goes over. That’s just for starters, so we only get that maybe 16 times a day."
Those in the group hope airport managers will work with neighbors to address noise concerns, even with the state designation. "We would like very much for the airport to work with us toward some kind of noise abatement, some mitigation. According to the ODA and state law, the airport can provide some conditions – we’re thinking about varying the flight paths, restricting the number of hours a day, the times of day." She says both sides are participating in a mediation assessment to see whether there is enough support and trust to move forward in an official mediation process.
The airport's owner did not return KBND's request for comment.