New Brunswick

Not your typical clear-cut: Mangled trees on Highway 2 cut for airport safety

It's not unusual to see patches of clear-cut forest while driving along New Brunswick highways, but two patches of trees along Highway 2 near Moncton stand out.

Work done quickly to keep runway open results in 'butchered trees'

Two patches of trees near the Greater Moncton International Airport are looking mangled after a hasty cutting. Julie Pondant, with airport communications, said the trees were cut to maintain safe pilot sight lines. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

It's not unusual to see patches of clear-cut forest while driving along New Brunswick highways, but two patches of trees along Highway 2 near Moncton stand out.

The mostly spruce and birch trees north of the Greater International Airport, east of the junction with Route 15, aren't cut at the base of the trunk but look cracked in half, as if attacked from above.

The red star shows the area, on the opposite side of the Trans-Canada Highway, where the trees appear to have been torn to pieces. (Google Earth)

According to Julie Pondant, corporate communications specialist at the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, the trees aren't the victim of a rogue aircraft or a crazed lumberjack but the result of a rush job to keep the sight lines clear for pilots approaching the runway. 

"It's for them to be able to visually see and for clearance underneath the aircraft."

Pondant says people have been calling to ask what happened to the trees. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)

With a laugh, she admitted, "it's true, it doesn't look pretty."

Pondant said the runway needed to be closed while the tree cutting was done for security reasons.

"They needed to be able to be sure that nothing would be landing or approaching at the time they were working in that area."

There is a wooded area beside highway 15, as you are driving into Moncton that looks like it was attacked by a monster. 0:55

So the job, done by an excavator with a mulching attachment, was finished as quickly as possible, she said.

And CBC News wasn't the first to ask what happened.

The trees had to be cut quickly to avoid disruption of flights at the Greater Moncton International Airport. (Pierre Fournier/CBC)
"Obviously, it looks a tad odd to see the trees in that state, but there is a purpose to it." 

Pondant said maintaining the trees is necessary under Transport Canada regulations and has to be done every few years, as vegetation grows.

The airport runway was closed to allow for a machine to access the trees and trim them.
Now that the trees have been shortened, the area will be cleaned up and the runway won't have to be closed again.

"It will look prettier in the coming weeks, I would say. I'm hoping."