Dug Bar Airstrip (OR8) lies along the Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, managed by the USFS. Access to Dug Bar is easiest by aircraft, jet boat, “Or you can arrive there after a two-hour drive on a primitive road from the town of Imnaha, Oregon,” RAF Oregon Liaison Bill Ables says. Ables also serves as co-chair of Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative (HCRC), the group of rafters, jet boaters, aviators, motorized recreationalists, commercial outfitters, backcountry horsemen, citizens-at-large, and local government. Its goal is to work with the USFS maintaining safe access as well as providing maintenance for facilities located within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Ables has been awarded an RAF grant to purchase a four-wheeler and trailer for maintenance of the turf airstrip and camping area. “This grant is to assist the USFS at no cost to them, by providing volunteers the proper equipment for needed maintenance at this historic and current administrative site,” he explains. “Good bass fishing, (with an Oregon fishing license), upland gamebird and deer hunting is par at this location,” he claims, with the knowledge he gained as a career fish and game warden. There is a windsock, picnic table, and USFS vault toilet on site.

Dug Bar has received upgrades thanks to volunteers from the RAF, Oregon Pilot Association, HCRC and Idaho Aviation Association, in part funded with the federal monies allocated for airstrip maintenance. With USFS monies, in 2022, IAA volunteers installed two webcams and a weather station at a private cabin just a half mile down river from Dug Bar.

The four-wheeler and trailer will be used to transport volunteers and their equipment to and from the boat ramp and aircraft tie down area; and can pull a pasture harrow to smooth the airstrip which is frequented by horses, mules and cattle, and will be used to spray weeds, “and other tasks at this off-the-grid site,” Ables said. “This project is wrapped around the idea that it will allow volunteers the opportunity to enjoy this facility while using their skills to provide maintenance and TLC so to keep this national treasure from disappearing,” Ables added.

By Carmine Mowbray
Posted January 15, 2024


  1. Thomas Van Diepen on January 21, 2024 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks, Bill Ables and the RAF.

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