The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) and Death Valley National Park officially signed a five-year cooperative maintenance agreement for the Chicken Strip in Saline Valley. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), dated October 18, also renews the established maintenance agreement at Furnace Creek Airport and Stovepipe Wells Airstrip.
“The RAF has proven that this partnership works since our original 2008 MOU,” RAF Chairman John McKenna said. “The National Park Service recognizes us as a valuable contributor toward safely ensuring aircraft’s very low impact form of access to the Park,” he added.
Article I of the document concludes: “The NPS benefits from the efficient operation of these sites as a result of the maintenance of safer airstrips for use by the Park and the public.”
The agreement names the RAF, and specifically RAF California Liaison Rick Lach, as sole contact with the Park. Lach has mustered volunteers over the years to assist with the re-opening of the gravel strip after seasonal washouts, and helped provide maintenance every autumn. “We have no problem rounding up twenty or so volunteers from all over California and Arizona for a work weekend,” he explained.
“Rick has proven that we are folks who are willing to invest sweat equity for the opportunity to use these three dispersed airstrips,” RAF President Bill McGlynn said.
The NPS will provide a drag to smooth Chicken Strip, with the RAF providing a pickup to pull it and a tractor with bucket or blade, if necessary and all hand or power tools needed. Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells are paved, so the RAF is only expected to help maintain runway markers and tiedowns, and remove vegetation if requested by Park officials.
“I’d like to thank Mike Reynolds, Park Superintendent, for his support of this win-win outcome,” Lach added.
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