Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Nolan Calls on Forest Service to Continue Using Ely Airport as Arrival Port For Fire-Fighting Aircrafts

Jan 12, 2018
Press Release

[WASHINGTON D.C.] U.S. Rep Rick Nolan today called on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to continue using the Ely Municipal Airport as an arrival port for fire-fighting C-130 aircrafts.

 

The Ely Municipal Airport was recently renovated specifically to improve the runway’s ability to handle C-130’s. However, the USFS recently indicated that it is considering no longer using the Ely Airport for C-130s – a change which would make it more difficult for the USFS to effectively fight fires in the Ely region.

 

“It was less than two years ago that a forest fire near Ely ravaged over 1,000 acres of wilderness and the future risk of fires to the region is only expected to grow,” Rep. Nolan wrote. “It would be shortsighted to decrease the ability of the USFS to quickly respond to forest fires in the region by limiting the number of firefighting aircraft which utilize the Ely Municipal Airport.”

 

The full text of Rep. Nolan’s letter is copied below.

 

January 10, 2018

The Honorable Tony Tooke

Chief

United States Forest Service

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

Dear Chief Tooke,

It has been brought to my attention that the United States Forest Service (USFS) is considering no longer utilizing the Ely Municipal Airport, located in my District, for C-130 airtankers. Please know I am strongly opposed to this proposal, which would greatly limit the Forest Service’s effectiveness in fighting forest fires in our region.

As you may know, the Ely Municipal Airport was recently renovated with local, state and federal dollars, specifically to improve the runway’s ability to handle C-130’s. Based on my understanding, Ely officials reviewed their plan for reconstruction with USFS officials who did not voice any concerns with regards to the ability of the runway to handle the airtankers. To that end, it is unclear why the USFS would now deem the runway too short to handle these aircraft. 

It was less than two years ago that a forest fire near Ely ravaged over 1,000 acres of wilderness and the future risk of fires to the region is only expected to grow. In my view, it would be shortsighted to decrease the ability of the USFS to quickly respond to forest fires in the region by limiting the number of firefighting aircraft which utilize the Ely Municipal Airport.

I appreciate your close attention to this matter and I am hopeful the Forest Service will help protect the safety of my District by continuing to utilize the Ely Municipal Airport for C-130 airtankers.

                                                                                                Sincerely,

 

 

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