Janurary/February 2002 Pilots Briefing

Pilot Briefing

Dunsmuir Mott Tree Heights Impact Siskiyou County Airports

Caltrans has suspended flight permit operations to Dunsmuir Muni Mott, and airport funds to five Siskiyou County-run airports have been suspended due to safety concerns over County height ordinance enforcement and wording.

Tom Anderson, Transportation Manager for Siskiyou County, elaborated in a clarifying response to an inquiry by CPA’s Region 3 VP Charlene Fulton (see her profile, p.12).

“The tree problem at Dunsmuir Mott Field has been ongoing since 1995. The airport is city property and the land that the trees are on is private property, but under county jurisdiction. Until two weeks ago, the City of Dunsmuir had not requested any action from the County to enforce the County Code pertaining to airspace encroachment.

“When this request was finally made, the Board of Supervisors decided to try arbitration rather than direct enforcement. I believe that this decision was based on the assumption that the issue is more one of compensation [to the land owners] rather than the actual removal of the trees.

“Caltrans apparently feels that this course of action does not resolve the problem and that the County Code is either not enforceable or arbitrary because it requires Board action to request the county D.A. to take action. They therefore took the action to halt State funding to all Siskiyou County airports based on the assumption that because the Code is unenforceable, the county is therefore in violation of the assurances that it signs when receiving State funding.”

The Caltrans decision withholds funds from Siskiyou, Butte Valley, Weed, Happy Camp, and Scott Valley airports.

The ordinance wording is under review, and the County Board of Supervisors has instructed the county administrator to initiate arbitration with the two holdout property owners who have requested substantial compensation for their trees.

The Mott Pilots Association, a chapter of the California Pilots Association, has maintained an ongoing effort to resolve the ordinance and tree trimming issue by requesting assistance from the city of Dunsmuir.

They have also joined directly in a lawsuit against the two holdout property owners. CPA president Jay C. White consulted with city attorneys, who feel the pilots and/or CPA should help with the rising cost of legal fees. Stay tuned…

CPA Action Ensures Renewed Operations at Blue Canyon

Shortly before the New Year, Caltrans issued a notice of closure for Blue Canyon (BLU), with instructions to Placer County officials that an “X” was to be placed at each end of the runway.

Caltrans cited uncut tree top heights as a safety issue. The trees reside on property owned by both Placer County and the National Forest Service.

Blue Canyon is an unattended, paved single runway airport located between Truckee Lake Tahoe and Nevada County Airpark. It was one of the original Sierra Madre airports located along the beacon airway route, according to Wes Funk, President of the Taft Airport Pilots Association.

After receiving notice of the closure, Jay White informed CPA Board members, who then began the immediate effort to reopen the airport.

CPA Airport Representative Program Manager Toodie Marshall and her husband, Bob, called and e-mailed Placer County and National Forest Service officials, advising them of the need for Blue Canyon to be reopened without delay.

They cited the safety factor of aircraft traversing the Sierras and needing the field for emergency purposes.

Julia Amaral, CPA’s rep for Nevada County Airpark (west of Blue Canyon), marshaled local pilot resources, who also made calls and sent e-mails to Placer County and National Park Service officials.

As a result of CPA member efforts, Toodie Marshall received a call directly from Bruce Kranz, Assemblyman Tim Leslie’s Executive Assistant, advising that the trees would be trimmed as soon as possible and that Blue Canyon would be reopened in the spring.

CPA is working on the long-term aspects of ensuring the availability of snow removal services as well.

Shortly before this issue went to print, CPA was informed that tree trimming would begin on Feb. 15.-Ed.

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