Natural Land Institute sues FAA for approving airport construction on Bell Bowl Prairie

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:19 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Natural Land Institute (NLI) filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for giving Chicago Rockford International Airport the green light to resume construction on a portion of the endangered land.

The prairie sits on property owned by the airport, which hopes to expand by building a road. The NLI doesn’t think the FAA took into consideration all construction alternatives for the airport’s expansion, but the government agency says it did and claims the action follows environmental policies.

The FAA’s approval was a major setback in activists’ fight to save Bell Bowl Prairie. NLI Director Kerry Leigh says her team at NLI submitted an emergency motion to stay Monday, which essentially asks the court to stop the airport from proceeding construction until a judge reviews the lawsuit.

“We want to see the airport expand, however, we feel that in this day in age, there are plenty of design solutions to be able to avoid the prairie. In fact, our consulting engineers reviewed those,” said Leigh. “If they combined alternative four and five, they could actually meet their requirements for the project, and they could save the prairie.”

We reached out to the airport and it declined to comment. The NLI plans to hold a rally and press conference for Bell Bowl on Wednesday.