March 28, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
Pilots can make their voices heard with an Oregon state agency as it reconsiders a two-year-old ban on floatplanes on one of the state’s largest lakes.
The Oregon State Marine Board, acting under court directive, will meet April 10 to review administrative rules it imposed banning floatplane access to 9.8-square-mile Waldo Lake in the Oregon Cascades. Members are encouraged to submit comments by April 9.
AOPA, in comments submitted March 19, strongly supported the reinstatement of floatplane operations on Waldo Lake, which were banned with other combustion-engine operations on the waterway. The association encourages pilots to make their views known in light of news reports that said only a few of the approximately 3,000 public comments received so far were in favor of reversing the ban.
“In the Pacific Northwest, floatplanes are an important mode of transportation, and the availability of water landing facilities such as Waldo Lake are key to maintaining the safety and efficiency of floatplane operations in the region,” wrote Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.
Floatplane operations have had a “negligible effect on the environment, surrounding communities, or other lake users,” while providing economic benefits to the region, he wrote.
Pecoraro also pointed out that public entities such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service have recognized the importance of floatplane operations “and safely accommodated them within their boundaries.”
AOPA submitted its comments on behalf of its 6,200 members in Oregon, and as part of a cooperative effort with the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association to advocate for the return of floatplane access to Waldo Lake.
“Now is a moment in time when your effort to comment will truly make a difference in the OSMB decision,” said the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association in a message on its website urging pilots to participate in the comment process that resulted from its petition for review of the administrative rules.
Members can submit comments by email or mail them to George Tinker, Chair, Oregon State Marine Board, P.O. Box 14145, 435 Commercial St. NE, #400, Salem, OR 97309-5065. Comments submitted electronically should be emailed to both of these two addresses: [email protected], and [email protected].
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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