Four years spent cooperating with the US Forest Service, planning, building trust and credibility has resulted in a new site for a recreational airstrip in the beautiful Russian Flat of central Montana, a short walk from the south fork of the Judith River where anglers enjoy catch-and-release fishing.
Dan Prill of Sand Coulee, Montana, took the lead for the non-profit Recreational Aviation Foundation throughout the comprehensive planning process, which included the requisite public comment input, an EIS, and public appeals period. The US Forest Service, responding to the wide-ranging concerns of the public, has authorized the establishment of the airstrip at Russian Flat in their Record of Decision.
The site, located about 40 sm southwest of Lewistown, Montana, was selected by the Forest Service because it met environmental, wildlife and aesthetic criteria with minimum disturbance to the landscape. It is ideal for recreational purposes, because it is adjacent to an established campground with picnic tables, a vault toilet and an existing unpaved road. The concept is to prepare a 4,000-foot long grass strip in the 6,300-foot elevation meadow: Lat N46 deg 43′ 18″; Lon W110 deg. 24′ 26″. Prill commented, “this decision is significant because until this location was selected at Russian Flat, there were no public airstrips on Forest Service lands east of the Rocky Mountain Front.” The RAF has approved an $8,000 grant to be awarded to the Montana Pilots Association’s Recreational Airstrip Committee for grounds preparation and rolling of the landing surface. To allow for adequate revegetation, it is anticipated that the public will not be allowed to use the strip for landing and takeoffs until Fall 2009.
Submitted on March 15, 2008.