USFS/RAF CONSTRUCTIVE ANNUAL PROJECT REVIEW – ALASKA TO GET 25 MORE USFS CABINS IN REGION 10

The RAF was very pleased with results of the annual online review with the US Forest Service Regions on March 14, hosted by Scott Haas, USFS Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources director. 

RAF President Bill McGlynn, and RAF Director Tim Riley and a dozen State Liaisons represented the RAF during the 90-minute meeting. “Tim and I both noted that these reviews improve and become more collaborative each successive year. There are always new people on their side, but the conversation is relaxed, positive and constructive,” McGlynn said.

RAF Chair John McKenna said, “I want to congratulate entire RAF team for all that gets done with this agency [the Forest Service.] Things are continuing to march on.”

Penny Wu, new Deputy Director of Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources of the Washington, DC office was on the call for the first hour, “which is significant,” McGlynn said. Following is a brief summary of the discussion.

Region 1 – Carol Hennessey, Program Manager for Recreation, Heritage, Wilderness Trails and Volunteer Resources, praised the RAF’s part in the Moose Creek fence project, and for transporting shingles to Shearer. She mentioned that our Great American Outdoors Act Proposal of $640,000 for deferred maintenance of Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest airstrips is in line for approval. Riley brought up Magee, that needs engineering assessment and water mitigation. Carol commented that she may begin to retain funds to take on the Magee project.

Region 3 – The work New Mexico Liaison Ron Keller did to open Sacaton Airfield after decades of being closed was praised, as well as Keller’s managing the acquisition and installation of the vault toilet on the Gila Wilderness trailhead using USFS funds. Supervisor Wendy Sutton noted how much faster and easier it is to make projects happen through the RAF partnership.

Arizona Liaison Mark Spencer and the Arizona Pilots Association have done maintenance on Double Circle historic ranch and airstrip in the past, but there is degradation of the buildings, and decisions will have to be made what will be done with this historic ranch going forward.

Region 4 has the most airstrips, and gets $214,000 of the $750,000 every year. Action includes significant runway work at Mahoney. Soldier Bar and Indian Creek were graded by a contractor. New outhouse at Cabin Creek and new erosion bars at Cold Meadows were discussed. Salmon/Challis is collecting “airstrip use data” across all four of their airstrips. Payette NF cut trees on approach to Johnson Creek. Riley asked that funds be allocated for Hoodoo Meadows, which will have to be included in the next funding round.

Region 5 has only two airstrips, Gravelly Valley in Mendocino NF, and now Monache Meadows in Inyo NF. The big news here is that funds will be allocated for Monache and it will reopen in spring 2024 after 13 years of RAF California Liaison Rick Lach’s continuous efforts. Riley is working with RAF volunteer Alan Cossit on reopening a third airstrip, Happy Camp in the Klamath NF.

Region 6 – 12 of their 18 backcountry airstrips are located in NE Oregon. Last year almost all the allocated funds were used to gravel the apron at Crescent Lake airstrip in response to the airport’s request. RAF Oregon Liaisons Rick Mayes and Bill Ables will assemble work plans with Challenge Cost shares for other worthy projects in the coming months. 

Region 9 – Most effort has been on Lost Creek. Planning for this year continues with RAF Michigan Liaison General Grant. The permit holder for Bass Creek, the other backcountry airstrip in Region 9, has charted it “R”. Supervisor Chad Runyan was surprised to learn that someone could permit public land and then privatize it, as this airstrip permittee has done. Runyan will approach the permit holder to see if he’s willing to make the airstrip public.  

Runyan also served as our host at AirVenture 2023. He reported that the USFS booth was much improved by the RAF presence and RAF’s focus on GA recreation on public lands. RAF will be in the USFS booth at AirVenture 2024 in Hangar D. He will also attempt to allocate one forum slot to the RAF during this 2024 event at Oshkosh.

Region 10 – Four of the five airstrips in the Region received maintenance. The Region plans to construct 25 new cabins on lakes in Alaska. RAF Alaska Liaisons Stef Goza and Jeff DeFreest said RAF volunteers are “gearing up to help.”  

It’s widely understood that the Forest Service must balance varied expectations of differing public user groups. Grazing, resource extraction, recreation, and protecting natural space puts opposing pressures on Forest Service land managers. “The one thing that has become clear to me is that after twenty years, we have accomplished so much more through our gentle nudging, than being the loudest voice in the crowded room of public opinion,” McKenna said. “We’ve proven that the RAF is there to help, back up, pay for stuff, and fly top cover when needed,” he concluded.

Submitted March 29, 2024
By Carmine Mowbray

1 Comment

  1. Ted Waltman on April 2, 2024 at 1:14 pm

    How / where do I find out where the 25 new Alaska cabins will be located, what resources/volunteers might be needed, and anything else related that i can publish on my website for wider informational news dissemination? Thank you!

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