Idaho senators lead fight to protect backcountry airstrips

May 1, 2006

Idaho senators lead fight to protect backcountry airstrips

Backcountry airstrip

Senators Michael Crapo and Larry Craig have not let up in efforts to protect backcountry airstrips. The two Idaho senators recently introduced the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act into Congress. AOPA is strongly supporting the bill.

"Many federal land management agencies persist in trying to close or restrict access to backcountry airstrips," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in letters thanking Sen. Crapo and Sen. Craig for sponsoring the bill. "Without congressional intervention, the accessibility of these valuable assets will continue to be hampered."

"Backcountry landing strips allow people to enjoy forest and parks, support state economies through recreational activity, and play a vital role in access to research, management, aerial mapping, and disaster relief," Senator Crapo recently said in a press release. "This bill will ensure our backcountry airstrips remain in operation, maintained, and accessible."

Boyer has met with Sen. Crapo on several occasions to encourage him to reintroduce the legislation.

AOPA has lobbied Congress for years to protect airstrips in remote areas because they not only allow public access to public lands, they are also critical to managing and protecting those national treasures.

In 1998, for example, Boyer went before a House of Representatives committee to remind Congress that it has always encouraged public access to wilderness areas, including access by aircraft.

Since then there have been numerous attempts to write that access assurance into law, but except for some measures attached to funding legislation (which expires), no permanent solution has yet to clear both houses of Congress.

Meanwhile, AOPA has wielded the power of its 407,000 members to push back administrative attempts to restrict or close backcountry airstrips.

The association continues to work with pilot groups, state aeronautical agencies, and outdoor enthusiasts to obtain support for national legislation as well as working with members of the House of Representatives to introduce companion legislation.

January 5, 2006