Backcountry pilots can rejoice after an agreement was reached this week allowing general aviation airplanes on national forest lands. For more than a decade, the Recreational Aviation Foundation has been working with the United States Forest Service and policy makers in Washington, D.C., to preserve legal access to backcountry strips and to reopen airstrips that have been closed.
Now the RAF has succeeded in adding language to the USFS Final Planning Directive that recognizes recreational aviation as a "legitimate mode of access, and one of the three legs of the National Forest Transportation System," a press release from the RAF says.
"It was apparent that our public lands planners included travel plans for off-road vehicles, pack animals, bicycles, hikers and boaters, but airplanes were conspicuously missing," the release said, referring to past Planning Directives.
The RAF's work to preserve and open up access to wilderness areas for recreational pilots earned the organization the Flying Editor's Choice Award in 2012.