Dear Members and Friends of CalPilots
We recently received notice from the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) that the National Park Service (NPS) is considering closing the Stovepipe Wells airport in the Death Valley National Park.
According to the RAF, if the Park Service does not receive at least 400 comments from the pilot community regarding Stovepipe Wells, they will ignore the pilot’s input. WE NEED YOU TO COMMENT BEFORE DECEMBER 23.
I strongly encourage anyone who would like to help preserve our access to this airport to fill out this form:
Comment on proposed closure of Stovepipe Wells airport
It doesn’t take long, maybe ten minutes. This short amount of time could help preserve a valuable national resource. The complete message from the RAF is below. It contains some information that my be useful as you complete the comment form.
Carol Ford, President
Managers of Death Valley National Park in California are seeking public input regarding future use of the park’s Stovepipe Wells Village. One of the park’s proposals is to change the Stovepipe Wells airstrip into a dedicated night sky viewing area due to the prohibitive maintenance expense of repaving the runway. This is due to the park’s perceived lack of visitation to the strip, combined with a growing interest in attendees in night-sky astronomy. With this change, the airstrip is in danger of closing entirely to light aircraft visitation.
The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) believes that pilot activity and stargazing can successfully co-exist with minor changes to existing infrastructure, and we are urging members to submit comments to the park in support of both pastimes.
Death Valley National Park is more specifically proposing the following change (the following text was captured from the park’s official Facebook page):
• Night Sky Viewing to Replace Airstrip: night sky viewing events in the park regularly attract over 250 people, and very few people use the airstrip at Stovepipe Wells. The park proposes changing the airstrip into a place where astronomical societies can set up and camp with their large telescopes, while providing an opportunity to experience the park’s spectacular dark skies. The Furnace Creek Airport, 18 miles away, would still be available for small planes.
If the Park Service does not receive at least 400 comments from the pilot community regarding Stovepipe Wells, they will ignore the pilot’s input. WE NEED YOU TO COMMENT BEFORE DECEMBER 23.
Additional details and comment submission form can be found at the following link:
The RAF suggests the following talking points for members who wish to comment:
· Pilots support stargazing. This is a very successful combination of compatible pastimes. This has been proven at Havana, Illinois, where fly-in stargazing events draw many campers both by air and car. The Blue Canyon airport at Nyack, in Tahoe National Forest is another perfect example.
* Current facilities at Stovepipe Wells are at about 1/2 mile hike away. The airstrip will see a significant increase in visitation should facilities such as a dedicated camping area, as well as toilets be provided to visitors to the airport.
· At 3,260 x 65 ft and a significant existing visitors area, there is ample room for both activities at Stovepipe.
· Providing for under-wing camping at the airstrip helps disperse usage, and puts no additional strain on the NPS campground.
· Its daylight use by small planes minimizes impact to campers and star gazers.
· This airport has historical value, having been established in 1948.
· Stovepipe Airstrip provides another feasible way to access this special land. For many, driving to Stovepipe Wells represents a huge investment of time, and access by small plane opens up that opportunity.
Thank you in advance for your support of this RAF Call to Action! The RAF will be following up with final comments on our website in the near future.
SB 1120 and SB 902 are being driven by developers, and if passed into law could have a very negative impact on general aviation airports in California. These bills essentially strip local government of land-use planning and approvals in the name of “affordable” housing in the state.
We heard that despite the last-minute oppositions by the aviation community, the bills were not stopped during committee review. Fortunately, both bills were not passed by the California assembly by the 8-31-20 legislative deadline. That date is the last day for each house in the California legislature to pass bills this year. So, these bills are dead for now. Unfortunately, there is a high probability they will be resurrected in next year’s CA legislative session which begins January 4, 2021.
Thank you to all that took the time to contact legislators to oppose these bills. At a minimum calling attention to the deficiencies in the bills could lead to amendments that maintain existing land use protection around airports. We will share any additional information we learn about these bills.
Please see the email below and attachments we received from Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA. This went to all AOPA members in California, but some of you may not have seen this or no longer belong to AOPA. Her request is important to share. Please take the time to contact your CA Assemblyman by email or phone no later than Monday 8-10 to oppose the bills she mentions. Please see the instructions in her email.
Redlands Airport is in CA Assembly Member Ramos district. As such, Melissa as asked us to contact him to oppose the bills. Some of you may reside in other CA assembly districts and you will need to contact your CA assembly member to do this. If you are not sure who that is, please use this link to contact your CA assembly member: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ Please be sure to change the name in the email to your assembly members name.
If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com
Dear Redlands Pilots,
I hope this email find you well during these difficult times. My name is Melissa McCaffrey and I manage Government Affairs issues in AOPAs Western Pacific Region, which includes lobbying for State level legislation affecting general aviation. I am writing to ask for your help in our legislative effort opposing two bills that are being heard by a committee in the California Assembly on Tuesday, August 11th.
I am asking that you contact your Assembly member, who has Redlands Municipal Airport in their district and ask them to OPPOSE SB 1120 and SB 902 and NOT support either bill passing through the Assembly Local Government Committee on August 11th. Please tell the office that you are a constituent in the Assembly Members district. You can call the number below or copy the suggested text into an email. Please reach out by the end of the day Monday, August 10th, the hearing will be held first thing in the morning on Tuesday, August 11th.
Why is this effort important to you as an AOPA member? SB 1120 and SB 902 are being driven by developers, and if passed into law could have a very negative impact on general aviation airports in California. These bills essentially strip local government of land-use planning and approvals in the name of “affordable” housing in the state. More information on these bills is available here: https://www.livablecalifornia.org/act-now-3-2/. Please help us protect California general aviation airports that could be threatened – or even closed by housing development that is incompatible with airports. We need you to take action to help us defeat the developer’s efforts in Sacramento!
Please take action to help us save California airports!
Call your Assembly Member by the end of the day on Monday, August 10th, and ask them to oppose SB 1120 and SB 902, both being heard in the Assembly Local Government Committee on August 11th.
Assembly Member James C. Ramos
Phone: (916) 319-2040
Please send an email using this suggested text and the email link above:
Hello Assembly Member Ramos,
I am a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a pilot and a constituent in your district. AOPA is a not-for-profit member organization representing two thirds of all pilots in the United States, and over 36,000 members in the State of California. I ask that you oppose SB 1120 and SB 902 passing through the Local Government Committee on August 11th. This is very important to pilots in California and I would appreciate your support. Both SB 1120 and SB 902 would have serious negative consequences to airports across the State, including Redlands Municipal Airport. Thank you for your consideration.
Join me on a conference call to learn more about SB 1120 and SB 902 and why we are opposing them. I will host this Q&A session on Monday morning from 9:00am – 10:00am Pacific Time and will be happy to personally answer your questions. I will be available for the full hour, so please join the call at any time.
+1 667-401-1062 United States, Baltimore (Toll)
Conference ID: 841 849 023#
I cannot stress enough how impactful strong community support is to legislators. Your calls and emails WILL be heard by your Assembly member – even if you must leave a voice message! AOPA is actively opposing these bills and I have already submitted AOPA position letters (attached) to the docket for the hearing on the 11th.
Thank you for your membership in AOPA and for your help in OPPOSING these bills. Together, we can keep the future of general aviation airports in California bright!
Government Affairs, Western Pacific
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
o: 301-695-2228 | c: 386-366-1811