USFS Closing Airtanker Base at Glacier International Airport

By Beacon Staff

The U.S. Forest Service has decided to close its airport tanker facility at Glacier International Airport this spring.

The aging Kalispell Airtanker Base was a national interagency base also used by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The lease for the facility expired at the end of January, and forest officials say the fact that the facility is aging and traffic has increased at Glacier International made it a good time to discontinue operations.

Patty Koppenol, Northern Region fire and aviation director, says the agency thinks the best use of the money is to upgrade other facilities in the area.

The USFS says existing airtanker bases in Missoula, Helena and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will continue to provide airtanker and helicopter support to ground firefighters.

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