Backcountry airstrips provide safe places for pilots to land in the event of an emergency, but they also enable aircraft to provide supplies to campers, conduct search and rescue operations, and fight fires. That's why AOPA is working to ensure that a draft resource management plan for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument area would clearly mark any closed airstrips and maintain them in a serviceable condition.
"AOPA believes that obstructions must not be placed across a runway and that ditches should not be dug on the landing surface since obstructing the landing area could endanger the life of the pilot and passengers," said Roger Cohen, AOPA vice president of regional affairs.
AOPA requested that the Bureau of Land Management, which manages 375,000 acres of land in north-central Montana and numerous recreational backcountry airstrips, reject an alternative included in the draft plan that would close all 10 of the airfields in the park.
"Backcountry airstrips are vital assets that need to be preserved and accounted for," Cohen said.
AOPA has filed comments in support of the draft plan's preferred alternative, Alternative F, because it keeps six of the strips open and provides for the establishment of a plan to maintain them.
AOPA members are encouraged to submit comments via e-mail before the April 26 deadline.
December 23, 2005