Reed Ranch Airstrip to open Friday for public use

Aviators can plan to land at a new destination in scenic Idaho after the Reed Ranch Airstrip opens for public use Friday (July 30).

The airstrip, in rugged north-central Idaho’s Payette National Forest, is about 18 miles east of McCall in the South Fork Salmon River drainage.

Everyone is invited to attend a ceremony commemorating the official opening of the airstrip at 10:30 a.m. At that time, a windsock will be raised and the first airplane officially landed. A lunch barbecue featuring hamburgers, hotdogs and potluck side dishes will begin at 11 a.m.

The Reed Ranch Airstrip will become the 31st backcountry airstrip maintained by ITD’s Division of Aeronautics. The U.S. Forest Service owns another 22 airstrips, and about a dozen backcountry airstrips are privately owned but open for public use with prior permission.

Idaho’s backcountry airstrip network is the largest in the lower 48 states.

The Forest Service acquired the Reed Ranch as part of an exchange with Brundage Mountain Resort in 2006. ITD initiated a request to assume operation of the airstrip in 2008.

This spring, ITD was awarded a 20-year special use permit that allows the state to operate Reed Ranch Airstrip as a public-use facility.

Backcountry airstrips are important because they attract many recreation enthusiasts to Idaho, but also are used for emergencies such as wildfire suppression or medical transport. Some airstrips are used to deliver food, mail and other essential goods to the few residents that live in backcountry areas.

To protect, plan and coordinate the operation of Idaho’s “turf and dirt” airstrips the Division of Aeronautics spearheaded the formation of the Idaho Airstrip Network. It includes government agencies, backcountry airstrip owners, pilot associations and outfitters’ associations working together to further develop and maintain these airstrips and actively build partnerships to preserve them.

The Idaho Airstrip Network has developed a database that contains all the necessary information for airstrip maintenance, planning and use at or by calling (208) 334-8775 for more information.

Published 7-23-2010