Owls Attracted To Protect Runway

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A California community has come up with a high-flying approach to combating the crumbling infrastructure at its little airport. They're letting a local Boy Scout put up owl boxes in trees near the runway at Columbia Airport, near Sonora in northern California. It seems gophers have made a mess of the grass strip, digging holes and creating mounds of earth that can make for jarring landings and takeoffs. The 2,600-foot irrigated runway isn't even a year old. "Hopefully it is going to lower our maintenance costs and keep our brand-new runway in better shape," said airport director Jim Thomas. It may also help Harrison Young become an Eagle Scout. The 18-year-old Soulsbyville teen built and installed the boxes, which will attract barn owls, as part of his Eagle Scout qualification. Birds and airports don't generally mix but Young has done his homework. Barn owls are nocturnal and the airport isn't used at night. Now, as long as the gophers are nocturnal, too...