Revisions to the U.S. Forest Service’s plan for Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests in Idaho should allow safety-related improvements to existing airstrips and open the door to creation of new airstrips, AOPA said in comments on the revisions Nov. 12.
Under a 2012 rule update, Forest Service planners must consider recreational aviation in their plans. AOPA worked with the Idaho Airstrip Network and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to provide recommendations supporting the seven backcountry airstrips in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.
In its comments, AOPA asked the Forest Service to remove proposed restrictions that limit existing airstrips to historical site conditions and instead to allow appropriate safety-related improvements after collaboration between the Forest Service and user groups. The association also expressed concern that language in the proposal would preclude the creation of new airstrips; new airstrips “would support the goal of dispersed recreation within the Forests,” AOPA wrote.
The association also asked the Forest Service to add airstrips to areas in the document where access infrastructure is addressed and to actively protect backcountry airstrips in designated wilderness areas that are preexisting to the designation.