Airport Cooperative Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board


Washington, DC




Environmental Engineering

Airports across the United States are required to manage the quantity and quality of stormwater on-site. However, many stormwater management options, such as stormwater detention ponds, can attract birds and create potential aviation wildlife hazards. Further, airports are often faced with conflicting federal, state, and local stormwater and wildlife management regulations and guidance on how to handle the issue.

The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) recognized that airports needed a user-friendly tool to assist with making decisions that balance both stormwater and wildlife hazard management. Gresham Smith, as part of a team led by Environmental Resource Solutions, developed a bird strike risk analysis and stormwater management decision tool that would enable airports to methodically and critically assess their wildlife hazard risk against existing and proposed stormwater management facilities.

small birds on an airport runway

Identifying the “What-Ifs”

After noting ambiguities or conflicts between federal, state and local bird hazard management and stormwater management regulations, and identifying airport stormwater management options and their potential effect on wildlife, we developed a matrix for the likelihood of bird strikes across a variety of stormwater design scenarios. We then conducted two airport case studies to gather input from real users and learn how the tool would perform at airports of different sizes and with differing amounts of data.

a close up of a page inside ACRP research report 125 with a chart for evaluating wildlife risk

Developing an Easy-to-Use Tool

We developed a bird strike risk analysis and stormwater management decision tool, which allows users to review the bird strike risk associated with an existing or planned BMP and identify ways to reduce risk via alternative BMP design characteristics or bird strike mitigation measures. We then introduced the Excel-based tool to stakeholders through outreach materials, webinars and presentations designed for airport personnel, wildlife regulators, stormwater regulators, and the general public at aviation-associated conferences and committee meetings.