RAF Idaho Liaison Bruce “Sparky” Parker reports major improvements at Cavanaugh Bay airstrip, (66S), near Priest Lake, Idaho. The RAF continues to provide grant funds toward projects, with a second grant of approximately $10,000. 

Parker points out that Idaho Aeronautics has completed major investments in the airport campground including more tie-downs, interior bathrooms, a new deck, refrigerator, freezer, and covered stainless sink outside for campers’ use, new coffeemaker and better internet; and an outhouse available during the off-season. Local homeowners, headed up by full-time Cavanaugh Bay resident Steve Pryor, had pitched in many volunteer days providing substantial maintenance on the airfield. Pryor is donating steel for steps up the steep rise to the campground. Idaho Aviation Association donated bicycles, stored in a shed within the camping area. They are free for pilots to use, but donations are encouraged. There are courtesy cars.

Pryor said, “I have volunteered myself to help this airstrip to be the best it can be,” and to that end he arranged for a technician who donated soil testing to see why the grass was patchy. The analysis showed deficiencies, and in the spring of 2022, the RAF granted $1,200 for fertilizer. Several homeowners applied it. That summer, homeowner volunteers used Pryor’s 45-foot bucket truck and trimmed overgrowing trees along the runway. Idaho Department of Lands did some selective logging, and volunteers from IAA and the homeowners group cleaned up leftovers.

After experimental irrigation all season, the fertilization and irrigation needs were clarified. Pryor contacted Rain Bird sprinklers and a test of the existing pump demonstrated that there was adequate pressure to operate all 91 sprinklers simultaneously. The 2024 RAF grant will provide the parts and controls for an irrigation system, fertilizer, grass seed, and chemicals to improve and stabilize the runway turf. 

The Cavanaugh Bay Homeowners lent the use of their high-powered thatcher for Pryor to operate over the runway, for better fertilizer penetration into the soil. This annual process will augment the aeration that Idaho Aviation conducts each year. Parker encourages visitors to enjoy all the new improvements that Idaho Aeronautics recently completed. The volunteers have permission to remove small trees between the campground and airstrip, “so you’ll be able to watch airplanes land while from the campground,” Pryor said. “As you can see, great things are happening to Cavanaugh Bay and it is my goal with the help of the RAF to make it the Johnson Creek of Northern Idaho,” Pryor added.

Submitted February 14, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray

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