Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg (R) has introduced legislation to protect the state’s backcountry airstrips.
The Backcountry Landing Strip Access Act would prohibit the federal government from closing or otherwise rendering inoperable aircraft landing strips located on federal lands.
Montana relies on rural airstrips to provide access to the backcountry for firefighting, emergency relief, research and recreation, said Rehberg. “This legislation gives the public and the state a seat at the table when any closure of these vital landing strips is being discussed,” he said.
The legislation requires a 90-day public comment period on any proposed closures, as well as the approval of the state aviation department.
“Backcountry landing strips allow public access to some of the most beautiful, remote federal lands in our state,” Rehberg said. “Washington bureaucrats don’t know what’s best for Montana, Montanans do.”
The legislation also directs the secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to adopt a nationwide policy governing general aviation on federal lands, while also consulting with state aviation officials to ensure the airstrips are appropriately maintained.
Similar bills have been proposed in the past to protect Montana’s backcountry airports, but this is the first time Rehberg has introduced it.
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