COLORADO SPRINGS — A new plan between the USDA Forest Service and the City of Colorado Springs will bring a permanent airtanker base and new ramp to the Colorado Springs Airport to help support firefighting efforts in the region.
The base will help the Forest Service provide firefighting services from the air in the Rocky Mountain Region and surroundings areas. "This is a regional base. It will operate within a 600 mile radius," said Colorado S[prings Airport, Director of Aviation, Greg Phillips.
“We want to do everything we can to protect our beautiful state and our residents. As wildland firefighting continues to be a priority for western states, we continue to embrace our leadership role and we look forward to completion of this vital asset," Mayor John Suthers said in a press release.
The Forest Service and the airport signed an agreement Friday to share the costs of the project that is budgeted at $20 million right now. The base will be 1.5 acres and it will have six reload pits for any contracted airtanker.
"Double the capacity we have to, not only refuel faster, but be able to bring in and fuel larger air tankers much more quickly and efficiently than we have in the past," said Vanessa Lacayo with the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, "This is going to take us into the future of how we combat wildfires."
The area the base can serve includes:
- South Dakota
Along with the base, an 8-acre ramp will be built near the main runway at the airport. Since the Forest Service will not be using the ramp during winter months, the city said it will be used as a de-icing area for planes.
The base and ramp construction is set to begin this summer with a 2021 end goal.