January 5, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Pilots who value backcountry aviation have an opportunity to support continued access to two airstrips on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property in Colorado, and advocate for backcountry aviation nationwide, by commenting on a draft resource management plan.
The BLM’s Colorado River Valley field office has drafted a revised Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the bureau’s Colorado River Valley holdings in northwestern Colorado, between Rifle and Vail. Comments will be accepted on the plan until Jan. 17.
Pilots are urged to make an extra effort to comment before the deadline because backcountry aviation and two backcountry airstrips at Roan Cliffs and Tepee Creek were omitted from the draft management plan. That omission prompted pilot organizations including the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) and the Colorado Pilots Association (CPA) to meet with BLM officials to familiarize them with recreational aviation’s traditional presence in the resource management area—something officials were not familiar with when planning the revision started in 2008, the RAF said.
“AOPA supports those organizations’ commitment to keeping backcountry recreational airstrips open and accessible, and will be submitting comments on the draft management plan,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy. He encouraged any pilot with an interest in backcountry aviation to submit comments on the draft management plan, and emphasize the national significance of the issue.
Because the draft RMP as now revised contains language requiring pilots to request prior permission before landing on land or water within the management area, the RAF and CPA have proposed specific wording changes to several sections of the draft, as well as background on the issue nationwide, said RAF Board Member Chuck Jarecki.
The RAF urged pilots to follow specific letter-writing guidelines, which it provided in a Dec. 27 email sent to its membership.
Comment online at the Resource Management Plan website, or mail your letter to BLM CO Colorado River Valley Field Office, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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