Two of Idaho’s popular wilderness airstrips will receive much-needed renovations this summer as a result of a federal grant from the Southwest Idaho Resource Advisory Committee (RAC).
The RAC approved a $50,000 grant proposal submitted by the Idaho Aviation Network (IAN) and Payette National Forest. The IAN, U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Aeronautics announced the grant award this week.
The federal Title II grant will enable improvements to landing surfaces and user facilities at the Chamberlain Basin and Cold Meadows airstrips, both of which are in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area northeast of McCall.
The IAN will contribute an additional $1,000 plus volunteer labor to improve both airstrips.
The airstrips receive an estimated 800 aircraft landings each year and have gone at least a decade without significant maintenance. The funds will provide for raking, grading and leveling of the airstrips, improvements to drainage systems, removal of lodge pole pine trees from along the airstrips and improvements to pit toilets and airstrip windsocks.
The IAN, a collaboration of federal, state and non-profit aviation interests that works to preserve and improve Idaho’s backcountry public-use airstrips, developed and supported the proposal and praised the decision.
“The Forest Service, BLM and ITD’s Division of Aeronautics all are struggling to find funds for maintaining these valuable airstrips,” said IAN Coordinator Larry Taylor. “These airstrips generate millions of dollars for Idaho each year from visitors from all points on the globe. The airstrips must be maintained not only to continue their attractiveness to visitors but to provide safe access for forest administration, fire fighting and emergency evacuations.”
The Payette National Forest plans to solicit bids for the airstrip improvements and award contracts this spring; work should be completed by the end of the flying season this year.