ITD seeks permit to operate Reed Ranch Airstrip
after USFS acquires property in land exchange
The Reed Ranch Airstrip, a private facility that has been accessible by permission only, may become part of Idaho’s network of state-operated airstrips and available for public use.
ITD’s Division of Aeronautics recently submitted a special use application to the U.S. Forest Service requesting authority for the state to open, operate and maintain the airstrip for public use.
The airstrip is located in rugged north-central Idaho’s Payette National Forest (PNF), about 18 miles east of McCall in the South Fork Salmon River drainage.
The Forest Service acquired the Reed Ranch as part of an exchange with Brundage Mountain Resort in 2006. At the time, the airstrip was defined as “Privately owned, not for public use. Possible unreported hazards. User assumes all risk. Prior permission required.”
The Forest Service notified ITD’s Division of Aeronautics in July 2006 of its intent to develop a plan for the airstrip after the exchange is completed.
“Once the exchange is complete and the airstrip becomes National Forest System land, the Payette will plan the future of the Reed Ranch property, including the airstrip. Opening the airstrip to the public will be one valid option.”
The Decision Notice for the land exchange also indicated: “If a proposal to maintain or develop it as a public aviation facility administered by the state were developed subsequent to the exchange, the PNF would process the proposal as appropriate.”
ITD’s special use application proposed several airstrip modifications:
Limiting its use from November through April to Emergency Use Only. The purpose of this limited use is to mitigate impacts to big game wintering around and on the airstrip.
Use of vibratory roller to smooth the existing ruts found on the centerline of the airstrip. Use of a roller potentially has less environmental impact than a grader.
Gating the access road to the airstrip off of the South Fork Salmon River Road, FDR 50674, allowing administrative access only, either by the Division of Aeronautics or the Forest Service.
Install two windsocks. The southern windsock would be placed inside a segmented circle, a 50-foot diameter circle of piled, painted rock. One windsock would be located at opposite ends of the runway. The windsocks would be mounted on a concrete pad measuring 2 feet in diameter and 30 inches deep buried at ground level.
Monitor noxious and invasive weeds and treat them as appropriate following Forest Service direction.
After a safety assessment by the Division of Aeronautics two other modifications were suggested:
For safety purposes, remove approximately 12 trees next to the runway. Six trees were identified near the north and south ends of the runway.
Install three sets of tiedown chains along the southwest edge of the runway, 125 feet from the runway centerline. Each tiedown would consist of three each; 18-inch diameter concrete pads buried 12 inches deep. Each pad will anchor a length of chain up to 10 feet in length.
The Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Assessment to analyze the potential impact of opening the Reed Ranch Airstrip as a public-use airstrip under the management of the state's Division of Aeronautics.
Public comments will be accepted through March 2. Individuals may send comments via conventional mail, electronically by e-mail, by fax or in-person delivery.
For more details about submitting comments, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture / Forest Service public comment announcement.
If the application is approved, the Forest Service will issue a special use permit to the state of Idaho to operate the airstrip as public-use airstrip, subject to the conditions and limitations noted or others that may be developed through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process. Idaho would be required to submit an annual operating plan that would be subject to Forest Service approval.