Pilots, AOPA rally to protect Montana 'airport of the year'

February 25, 2010

The Three Forks, Mont., planning and zoning board voted Feb. 18 to protect Pogreba Field from the construction of nearby obstacles by limiting the height of future development in the area.

An advisory committee drafted an ordinance several years ago to restrict the height of new construction in the “airport affected area” surrounding Pogreba Field. The zoning board passed a revised version of that ordinance, which now goes to the city council for a vote. Before the board considered the regulation, AOPA weighed in, along with local pilots, to encourage its adoption.

“As the proposed regulation goes forward, it is important that the city of Three Forks and Gallatin County keep in mind the critical role that aviation plays in our economy and daily lives,” wrote AOPA Director of Advocacy Joey Colleran in a letter to Three Forks Mayor Gene L. Townsend. “We encourage you to do your part to preserve and protect Pogreba Field—passing the regulation is a step in that direction.”

The regulation would grandfather in existing structures while protecting the airport from future construction that could create obstacles and jeopardize the safety of airport operations. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer and airport manager David Boyd circulated information to local pilots about the ordinance, and the Montana Pilots Association also rallied in support of the height restrictions.

In her letter, Colleran told the mayor that the airport is an asset to the community and serves as a vital part of the transportation infrastructure in the Gallatin Valley. Pogreba Field hosts the Montana Antique Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in, and the state recently recognized the value of the airport by selecting it as the Montana Department of Transportation Aeronautics’ 2010 “Airport of the Year.”

“Aviation is a vital part of America’s multi-modal transportation system. As communities across America plan for the future, it is critical that they take steps to protect their own part in this network of airports,” she wrote.