People attending three recent National Park Service (NPS) public meetings on the future of California’s Chicken Strip expressed broad support to keep it open. The 1,350-foot dirt strip provides fly-in access to the warm springs area of Death Valley National Park.
The Park Service is looking for administrative justification to keep the strip open, said AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins. “Comments pointing out how the Park Service can benefit from the airstrip will be very helpful in keeping it open and operating,” he said.
The drive from National Park Service headquarters to the warm springs is a five-hour drive versus a 30-minute flight. “And that drive is over very rough roads that are occasionally completely washed out,” said Collins. “Implementing a backcountry rescue relying on road travel will add significant amounts of travel time whereas using a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft operating out of the Chicken Strip can save that precious time and get victims to safety and medical care much quicker.”
AOPA members across the nation and in California, especially those who use their aircraft to get to the backcountry and in particular the Saline Valley, are being urged to comment on the National Park Service proposals. Comments may be submitted via the website or by mail to the Saline Valley Management Plan Superintendent, Death Valley National Park, PO Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. Comments are due by March 28.