The following is a press release announced by the U.S. Forest Service Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Public Affairs Officer.
Recreational Aviation Foundation President Bill McGlynn “considers getting to fly into Moose Creek a real privilege” as do many of his fellow aviation enthusiasts. So, when he learned that there was a volunteer opportunity that he and his fellow pilots were uniquely suited to help with, he jumped at the opportunity. At a regional level review of backcountry Forest Service airstrips, Bill told Forest Service employees that the Sand Point branch of the Daher Company—a French aviation conglomerate–“had offered us 50 hours of Kodiak time to help transport materials” and asked if he could be of assistance and after some discussion the Moose Creek project was identified as a good fit.
Once the project was identified, McGlynn began to mobilize. Utilizing a cost-sharing agreement with the Forest Service, he purchased posts and rails from a local Montana company and had them transported to the Missoula airport. Minuteman Aviation donated its maintenance ramp at the airport for a week so they could perform preparatory work. Because Moose Creek is in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, where only hand tools can be used, his team needed to drill and perform other powered mechanical work before the airlift began. With the help of six eager volunteers, they were ready to start hauling the new fence to Moose Creek only a day later.
Unfortunately, their team hit another snag: the Kodiak was too small a plane for the 10 and 1/2 foot fence rails. Luckily, the USFS Region 1 aviation team led by Shane Bak was able to step in and help with the Shorts Sherpa and load crew that accommodated their materials. The longer rails were all transported, and the work began on time October 13, 2023. The first of 20 volunteers, which included people from Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and the Pacific Northwest, all flew to Moose Creek to start removing the old fence and assembling new jack-leg fence.
“It wasn’t hard at all for me to recruit people to come help out here when they found out this place needs work and they want to give back,” McGlynn explained. In fact, he intentionally limited recruitment: “We didn’t go broadly asking for people to sign up because we thought we’d get too many volunteers.” The process of putting up the fence “felt like an orchestra with everyone doing what they felt most comfortable doing and were best at.” “The fence went up so fast that we had to slow down because materials weren’t coming fast enough to keep up with us.”
In just four and a half days, McGlynn’s team installed 1260 feet of replacement fence and got all the old, deteriorated fence out and organized in piles to be burnt later. Only 1000 feet of replacement fence remains to be installed. The Historic Moose Creek Ranger Station is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness hub supporting youth development in resource stewardship, back country recreation, outfitter and guide operations, scientific research, wildland fire management and wilderness values. “RAF’s commitment to Moose Creek Ranger Station goes well beyond solely benefitting recreational aviation. Their work supports the wide variety of work we do, and we are fortunate to have them as partners,” said Moose Creek District Ranger Ron Tipton.
Submitted November 30, 2023