Gila National Forest update

New Mexico pilots have responded to RAF Calls To Action regarding Forest Service plan revisions and have written comments. We appreciate their time and effort!

Joyce and I collaborated on comments to Gila NF on behalf of NMPA, while Rol Murrow commented on behalf of the RAF. Several people have taken time to engage in face-to-face meetings with USFS personnel, including Rol, RAF New Mexico Liaison Larry Filener and myself. The Gila National Forest Planner emailed, thanking us and advising us of the incorporation of language advocating airstrips into the plan revision. Here is part of the correspondence he sent:

“Thank you for sharing your ideas and perspectives. We were able to add “airstrips” to the sustainable infrastructure need-for-change statement as you suggested.  We appreciate your efforts to help us with the plan revision process. We expect to post final versions of these documents to our website (http://go.usa.gov/h88k) soon. Please feel free to contact us with any additional comments or questions. There will be more opportunities to collaborate and provide input during the plan development phase.”

Well-Received presentation to the USFS 

New Mexico Liaison Larry Filener put together a Power Point, and he and I teamed up on a presentation to the Gila National Forest Team on May 17th.  We covered who the RAF and NMPA are; explained the NM Airstrip Network, recreational aviation liability issues; the RAF wildlife study; the MOUs between the RAF, the USFS and the BLM; RAF accomplishments such as Montana’s Russian Flat and Arizona’s Grapevine and Double Circle. Larry handed out copies of the RAF Land Managers Guide. We had time for Q&A at the end. 

I believe we laid the groundwork for further discussions around an integrated maintenance plan for all airstrips in the Gila. We received a round of applause at the end, which seemed to me to indicate the presentation went very well.

We learned from the Aviation Officer that USFS maintenance standards for airstrips have been discarded, so the RAF has a real opportunity to provide guidance and input in this area.

Submitted On May 22, 2017.

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