Aviation voices are now being heard as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) drafts its plans for managing federal land holdings in the Colorado River Valley.
AOPA submitted formal comments on the BLM’s revised resource management plan (RMP) for the bureau’s lands between Rifle and Vail, Colo., urging access “without pre-authorization” to two back-country airstrips, and any future designated landing sites. Members had been urged to comment on the management plan when it was learned that backcountry aviation—and the two airstrips on BLM land in the Colorado River Valley—had been omitted from the RMP, as AOPA reported Jan. 5.
“AOPA continues to advocate on behalf of our members to keep access open to those back country airstrips and to actively consider them in the planning process,” wrote John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, in comments submitted Jan. 12.
The airstrips provide access to wilderness areas for pilots and their families, and can open such areas to mobility-impaired persons, Collins wrote, adding that the strips also provide a measure of safety for overflying aircraft in emergencies. The airstrips could also serve as staging areas for forest management, or fighting wildfires.
AOPA expressed support for RMP language suggested by the Recreational Aviation Foundation to specifically authorize public access without pre-authorization to the Roan Cliffs and Tepee Creek airstrips in the RMP’s management area as an integral part of a balanced management plan.
AOPA also asked that provision be made to recognize additional landing sites, and for aviation organizations to be included in future planning actions within the Colorado River Valley and the state of Colorado.
The BLM is one of the largest public land agencies in the country and is pursuing a 10-year nationwide planning project schedule. The agency is expected to publish two additional RMPs in Colorado in 2012, and AOPA wants to ensure that the Grand Junction and Uncompahgre field office plans take aviation into account.
AOPA, the Colorado Pilots Association, and other aviation groups are working to have aviation included in the RMPs. Pilots are urged to monitor those plans and submit comments when the periods begin for doing so.