Fri, Mar 05, 2004
Idaho Congressional Delegation Takes Fight To Cabinet
While many GA
supporters fight for their local urban airport, others are trying
to keep those isolated, yet important, backcountry airstrips open.
AOPA and members of Congress from the western United States are
working closely together to make sure millions of acres of
wilderness remain accessible by air. For many of these areas,
flying is the only way in or out.
The entire Idaho congressional delegation has called on
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to guarantee public access to
four backcountry airstrips in the Frank Church-River of No Return
Federal Wilderness Area. The department's U.S. Forest Service has
issued a decision closing the Dewey Moore, Mile-Hi, Simonds, and
Vines airstrips to all but emergency operations. AOPA has appealed
that decision. In a letter to Veneman, Idaho's Sen. Michael Crapo
(R), Sen. Larry Craig (R), Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R), and Rep
Mike Simpson (R) note that "restricting the public use of these
airstrips is contrary to the legislation authorizing the
Under the law creating
the wilderness area, the Forest Service is required to obtain the
express written consent of Idaho's state aviation agency before
closing or rendering unusable the four airstrips. "The Idaho
Director of Aviation is on the record, stating the agency's desire
to keep the airstrips open," the four members of Congress wrote.
"Additionally, the Idaho State Legislature has passed two
resolutions outlining their support for keeping the airstrips
"Whether it's a downtown airport in a big city, like Albert
Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg (FL), or small airstrips in the
wilds of the American West, AOPA believes all of America's landing
facilities need to be preserved," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
"Working closely with a state's entire congressional delegation, as
we've done in Idaho, helps us take that argument to the highest
levels of the government."
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