A proposal to build four backcountry airstrips in Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest would open up pilot access to the Little Belt, Castle, and North Half Crazy mountains, where there are currently no airports. AOPA is supporting the proposal one alternative in the Forest Service's draft environmental impact statement because it provides the greatest aviation access to the area. The Forest Service has expressed concerns about building airstrips in those areas, saying such a move could increase illegal outfitting and that the construction of the strips could damage surrounding areas. AOPA explained to the Forest Service that pilots are law-abiding citizens and that those who will be using the strips have a respect for nature. The association also said that building backcountry strips does not require heavy machinery. Volunteers could help prepare the strips by hand, which would further reduce the Forest Service's cost to build and maintain the strips.
October 27, 2006