Final Ross Lake management plan supported

January 19, 2012

The decision to include seaplane access as a component of the final general management plan and environmental impact statement for the Ross Lake National Recreational Area in Washington state resulted from an effective collaboration between government planners and aviation organizations during the plan’s review process, AOPA said.

AOPA commended the National Park Service for meeting with the association and the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, and for following up by incorporating the organizations’ ideas into the park service’s preferred alternative for the recreation area’s future management. That decision eliminated concerns registered by AOPA and others in September 2010 about a prior version of the plan that would have curtailed seaplane access to the recreation area near Seattle.

As revised, the preferred alternative will maintain seaplane access to Ross Lake, and allow seaplanes to use nine of 19 camping areas. It will also give the seaplane community the opportunity to develop voluntary noise-abatement procedures while educating pilots about the area, and keeping track of seaplane usage.

“We are also pleased to note that you are not alone in your openness to aviation access,” wrote Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, in a Jan.17 letter to the superintendent of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. “Your sister Federal agencies are also moving to recognize general aviation as a stakeholder. The U.S. Forest Service’s National Planning Rule process specifically recognized recreational aviation as a use in the National Forests.”

AOPA reported on Dec. 12 that the National Park Service had released its final general management plan for Ross Lake Recreational Area, protecting 116,798 acres including three reservoirs that serve as gateways to remote areas ringed by mountains and glaciers, and mostly designated as wilderness.