ITD recently partnered with recreational air transportation providers and users across the northwest to develop a strategy for the future of Idaho’s recreational airstrips. Gathering input for a strategic plan was the focus of the Feb. 18 statewide Recreational Airstrip Symposium in Boise.
The process brought together stakeholders, many with divergent views, as partners to work toward a common goal: protect and manage recreational airstrips in Idaho.
In opening comments at the symposium, Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Charles L. Winder charged attendees with the task of developing a balanced plan that would protect the environment, manage existing resources and provide access to the airstrips, most of which are in the backcountry.
Deciding how to reach the goal sparked lively discussion at three regional workshops conducted prior to the statewide session. Held last fall in McCall, Salmon and Worley, the workshops gathered transportation officials, pilots, forest managers, wilderness activists, outfitters and other stakeholders to discuss the future of how recreational airstrips should be used, managed, maintained and improved.
The Idaho Airstrip Network Action Plan was drafted as
a result of those workshops.
“We’re working to create an effective solution, and that involves bringing together people who have some very different, sometimes opposing, perspectives.”
The approach follows the example set by ITD’s 2003 Visioning process, when a broad cross-section of Idahoans participated in a process of envisioning a transportation system of the future. “Idaho’s Transportation Future: Getting There Together” identified an airstrip network as a focus area needing an action plan.
“Define what it is you want to have,” said Bill McLaughlin, symposium facilitator and a University of Idaho professor in the College of Natural Resources. “If we’re going to get there, it’s a matter of doing it together.”
The interactive workshops asked participants to examine the states’ recreational airstrip assets and determine how to invest, or not invest, in them as part of Idaho’s transportation vision. Participants also created lists of potential investment partners who would have an interest in supporting a focal recreational airstrip plan.
The symposium was held in association with the Idaho Aviation Association, Idaho Commerce and Labor, Idaho Outfitters & Guides Association, ITD’s Division of Aeronautics and U.S. Forest Service.
Following are highlights of what participants said at the regional sessions:
Key strategic areas for maintaining and enhancing the system of recreational airstrips: