The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) brought two major initiatives to fruition on a mid-March trip to Washington, D.C.. RAF President John McKenna and Public Lands Director Mark Spencer completed national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) documents with the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The stated purpose of the USFS MOU is to:
“develop a framework for cooperation between the Forest Service and the RAF relating to support of Forest Service airstrips programs, including support for the operation, rehabilitation, maintenance, and public use of existing backcountry airstrips; assisting in collecting and sharing information about backcountry airstrip recreation opportunities; and enhancing recreation opportunities through funding, volunteerism and sharing technical advice. Collaboration under this MOU can occur at the national, regional, and local levels through mutually beneficial programs, projects, training and other activities that may be planned and accomplished on NFS lands by the FS and the RAF. Such programs, projects and activities will complement the respective missions of the Parties and serve the mutual interest of the parties and the flying public.”
“After eight years of dedication, the RAF is celebrating this enormous accomplishment,” McKenna said. The MOU follows on the heels of the USFS Final Planning Rule Directives released in February that form the basis for aviation use on 193,000,000 acres of National Forests. The new directives were largely the result of the constant RAF advocacy for the aviation community. “Now with this formal MOU, we are ready to roll up our sleeves to maintain, preserve and create backcountry airstrips in Forest Service locations,” Spencer added.
Framework for aviation formed with BLM –
The RAF delegates also secured a national MOU with the BLM. Over six years in the making, this MOU is the first of its kind and recognizes aviation and how it relates to the 245,000,000 acres of BLM lands. In summary, the MOU’s stated purpose is to:
“establish a framework for collaboration between the BLM and the RAF relating to the responsible use of recreational airstrips on BLM-managed lands and to serve the mutual interest of each party and the flying public. Both parties agree to collaborate in identifying opportunities and possible locations throughout the country for the RAF to pursue its mission.”
“The RAF cannot be more pleased with these accomplishments and that we are considered a trusted partner on matters relating to recreational and backcountry aviation. Were it not for the efforts of many before us – the numerous pilots and aviation organizations that have dedicated time and effort to represent aviation as a good steward of public lands – our accomplishments would have been much more difficult to attain,” McKenna said.
Submitted on March 26, 2015.