On April 4, the RAF met virtually with U.S. Forest Service staff representing seven of the USFS’s nine Regions, and Washington, D.C. The meeting was facilitated by Scott Haas, Acting Dispersed Recreation Program Manager, and regularly District Ranger at Clear Creek, Colorado.
The USFS representatives outlined the airstrip projects and challenges in their regions. A common concern was the desire for more comprehensive airstrip management plans. “Our partnership with the Forest Service is vital to the preservation of the more than seventy airstrips on Forest Service lands as their budgets continue to be pressured,” RAF President McGlynn said.
In addition to McGlynn, RAF meeting attendees were Oregon Liaisons Richard Mayes and Bill Ables, Idaho Liaison Bruce “Sparky” Parker, and Director of Marketing Kodi Myhre. RAF Director Tim Riley typically attends Forest Service planning meetings, but was previously committed.
The group discussed the Challenge Cost Share Agreement, the intent of which is to collaborate with the RAF on airstrip maintenance, operations, and improvement projects. The Agreement outlines both the RAF and the USFS responsibilities and contributions to accomplish these projects. “We have developed mutual respect with leaders in the Forest Service because of our authentic desire to conserve these great aviation treasures.” McGlynn said.
Specifically, projects reviewed were:
Region 1 – 2022 work done at Moose Creek and Shearer airstrips. The RAF flew in an airport engineer (pro-bono) to collaborate with USFS on a runway rehabilitation plan. Work is expected to begin summer of 2023 and continue for two more years under a Master Cost Share Agreement with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. A Montana Conservation Corps trail crew will begin work this June. The crew and equipment will be flown into Moose Creek with RAF resources.
Region 3 – Sacaton, NM. Improvements are underway as part of the Cost Share Agreement between the RAF and the Gila National Forest. A work party is currently underway. Arizona’s Double Circle Ranch rehabilitation work was also reviewed.
Region 4 – Airstrip grading on Idaho’s Indian Creek, Thomas Creek, Cabin Creek and Cold Meadows. There was discussion of 2023 irrigation and airstrip rehabilitation at Big Creek.
Region 5 – Maintenance work at Gravelly Airstrip. Maintenance at Monache Meadows will occur in 2023, if accumulated snow levels allow.
Region 6 – In 2022, the RAF provided a grant to the Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative. This nonprofit group organized in 2016 at the request of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation to work with the USFS on user issues within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
Region 10 – Childs Glacier project. With grants from the USFS and Alaska Airmen’s Association, the RAF joined an Alaska trails crew and brushed out and lengthened the runway to make the airstrip usable. RAF provided a grant for the installation of aircraft tie-downs, an RAF windsock, and the purchase and seasonal storage of four bicycles for visitors to access the USFS campground one mile away. This summer, more airstrip work is expected to be completed.
The RAF emphasized that the RAF is here to help the Forest Service and values its relationship. “They see that we are of the same cloth – trying to preserve our public lands that we all cherish,” McGlynn added.
Submitted on April 14, 2023.