Kurt Pennuto, our RAF State Laison, sent me this summary of the events at the Bowstring Airfield meeting last Wednesday. Apparently approximately 20 aircraft flew in. I think this helps demonstrate the influence we can have on issues such as this. Our challenge now is to keep on using these airfields, and not simply let the airport go unused.
This summary is from our very own Jeff Russell (the Wisconsin version)...
I flew up to Bowstring airport in northern Minnesota yesterday to support Kurt Pennuto in representing the RAF. It is really a beautiful airport in a great location. It's in the heart of the Minnesota northwoods and lakes area that is truly a special place. Kurt did a great job identifying this strip as one with high recreational value and one that the RAF should be involved with.
The Bowstring airport was rumored to be under threat of closure. Yesterday's meeting included Itasca county commissioners, airport commissioners, Mn-DOT, and about 45 or so interested pilots and citizens.
The meeting went very well. The county commissioner opened the meeting saying that they were really not considering closure but that there were issues that need to be addressed. The county's biggest issued appeared to be related to their airport ownership and the perception that this ownership was exposing them to liability. At the root of the matter was that they had airport inspection from MN-DOT two years earlier wherein Mn-DOT noted 17 obstructions at the airport (trees) that needed to be removed. There was typical poor communication between the airport commission and the county commissioners. Upon belatedly learning of the non-conformance of the airport, the county (especially the county attorney) appeared to have gotten a bit agitated.
The county commissioners were actually quite surprised by the turnout to the meeting. They specifically noted the RAF's attendance and appreciated us being there. In the end, the meeting served to re-establish communications between the county and the airport commission along with MN-DOT. The perceived threat of closure is now gone and the airport even learned of additional funding that was available from MnDOT. It appears that the future of the airport is on an even better path.
Many thanks to those of you who attended the meeting, or contacted the Commissioners. You made a difference!