Seaplane pilots seek continued access to Ross Lake

July 28, 2010

The National Park Service is creating a management plan for Ross Lake National Recreation Area in Washington that would affect a wide variety of activities and could impact seaplane operations on the lake. AOPA is working with local pilots and the Washington Seaplane Pilot’s Association to ensure that seaplanes will still have access to the lake and is calling on individual pilots to register their concerns.

AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro recently attended the first of a series of meetings in Washington hosted by the National Park Service for seaplane pilots and others to discuss the draft general management plan and environmental impact statement. The park service has created four alternative plans for managing the area, and each would have a different impact on the level of seaplane restrictions. One would impose no restrictions, while another would completely ban seaplanes from landing on the lake. Two other alternatives would limit the seaplanes to the north and south ends of the lake.

Pecoraro reminded the National Park Service that it had already determined that seaplane operations only numbered a couple dozen a year at the lake and said that AOPA could see no reason to limit current seaplane access. Pilots in attendance explained that limiting operations to certain areas of the lake isn’t feasible because the aircraft often need to land near the center of the lake for wind conditions, water depth, obstructions, and docking facilities.

AOPA will be filing its formal comments on the plan before the Sept. 30 deadline and encourages pilots who use the lake to do the same. Comments can be submitted through the National Park Service website.