Hemphill County Airport, tucked away in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle, sits just a few miles away from the Canadian river and adjacent to a sizable area of undeveloped land that hosts a variety of wildlife. As a result of its setting, the airport struggled to keep deer from entering the property and getting onto the runways – a major hazard for deer and pilots.

In 2010, PSC was contracted to install approximately 17,000 linear feet of 8-foot game fence around the perimeter of the airport as well as 12-foot swing gates and a 25-foot, motor-operated cantilever gate. One of the challenges of this project was to design a fence that conformed to the natural drainage channels that were on the property without causing an accumulation of debris to build up at the fence. One small creek in particular created a 30-foot-wide, 6-foot-deep gap through which large amounts of stormwater and debris would need to be carried during and after rain events. Leaving the gap open would result in deer and other large wildlife having access to the runways, while covering it would cause debris to clog the outlet and stormwater to flood the runway.

PSC’s innovative Aviation Team engineers developed a unique solution to solve this problem. A swinging, gate-like structure was designed to fit across the creek bed that keeps wildlife out (even large deer) but allows water and debris to flow out of the property and drain the airport after a storm. Michael Krusing, PE, design engineer for the project, said that deer return to where they previously gave birth each spring. In the past, because of the small creek, many deer had a history with the land on which the airport was built. As a result, the game fence was essential to protecting deer from following their instinctual desires to get into the airfield.