Here are USFS Recreation Director Martin (on screen) and John McKenna during their virtual signing ceremony.

RAF Chairman John McKenna and US Forest Service Recreational Director Michiko Martin on January 6 co-signed a five-year renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between the USFS and the RAF. 

“The RAF has worked consistently for the last eighteen years to build a good working relationship with the Forest Service at the district, regional, and national level,” RAF Idaho Liaison Tim Riley said, adding, “These efforts resulted in the original five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed in March of 2015.” The document established aviation within USFS Planning Directives as one of the three legs of the National Forest Transportation System on 155 national forests, twenty national grasslands and seven national monuments. “This formal MOU lends credibility to our vision and efforts to preserve backcountry airstrips on public lands,” RAF Arizona State Liaison Mark Spencer said.

“Working together, we are tracking projects and access to eighty-seven airstrips on Forest Service lands in seven of the nine Forest Service Regions across the country,” Riley said.

Riley also pointed out that RAF engagement with Congress resulted in an annual Federal allocation of $750,000 for the maintenance and preservation of backcountry airstrips on USFS lands.

The RAF also has a Master Challenge Cost Share agreement with the USFS to identify specific projects and leverage RAF volunteers and funding in public/private partnership. 

“This arrangement multiplies the benefit of the dollars that the Forest Service can spend on projects,” McKenna said. “Our wide group of volunteers and collaborators like state pilot groups provide the boots on the ground.”

Submitted January 29, 2020


  1. Aaron Alme on February 1, 2021 at 8:03 am

    Great job John and team, thank you!

  2. Trent Sanders N880 on February 1, 2021 at 8:55 am

    The RAF & McKenna need to develop to build a relationship with the people who run Death Valley National Park whose agenda is to close the Stovepipe Wells Airport [L09]. So that “star gazers” will have a place to set up their telescopes. As if there isn’t any other place in the millions [?] of acres in the Park to do so!

  3. John McKenna on February 1, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Hi Trent, Thanks for the comment. You can be assured the RAF has worked hard on the relationships with all of these agencies including the NPS. The NPS is different than the USFS in that they have a different mandate than does the USFS & BLM for ex. With all the comments that we solicited and the ongoing work of our CA liaisons you should know that the RAF is doing all that it can to keep Stovepipe Wells open and available.

  4. Dan Thompson Thompson on February 1, 2021 at 10:06 am

    That is just huge and I for one am very proud of the organization and what it has, and gets accomplished!

  5. Mark Hickmott on February 1, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Unbelievable, Trent is right, the park is huge, there should be many more options than L09. Sure it’s easy access from the hotel and road, but there has to be another spot just as close by!

  6. Charles L. Parish on February 1, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Good news! Thanks John and The RAF Staff and Volunteers.

  7. Jeff DeFreest on February 1, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Thanks RAF for all your work! Congrats on the agreement regarding FS airstrips/transportation systems. It’s be great to get some protections and long term maintenance funding for our fly-in USFS cabins too. Many of these gems, especially in Alaska (USFS Region 10) are on remote lakes and only reachable by floatplane. Some are on the chopping block due to lack of funding.

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