The fight to protect backcountry airstrips continues today with the reintroduction of legislation by Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to block efforts by federal agencies to restrict or arbitrarily prohibit general aviation's use of backcountry airstrips by requiring approval from state aviation officials before closing landing sites on federal land. Last year, AOPA supported Senator Crapo, who successfully attached an amendment to the Interior Appropriations Conference Report for fiscal year 2001, prohibiting federal funds from being used to close any airstrips on lands administered by the Department of the Interior.
Backcountry airstrips serve an essential safety role as emergency landing areas. In mountainous terrain, a pilot experiencing engine trouble has few choices for an emergency landing. In the past, backcountry airstrips have been closed without notice or input from the users and without the approval of state aviation departments.
For more information on the Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act, see the AOPA Legislative Affairs department's issue brief.