Oregon Coast Alliance Disagrees With County's Plans to Expand Cape Blanco Airport
[Editor's note] Thankfully this plan has been canceled. According to a 9/28/11 Oregonian article by Lorie Tobias, the proposal was withdrawn after Curry county commissioners received a letter from Tim Wood, the Director of Oregon Parks and Recreation in which he stated, "It is my personal opinion, and I believe the feeling of many of the commissioners - all of whom have walked on the trails, observed the unique plant life, and taken in the coastal scenery - that the value of this property to the state park system is irreplaceable...I sincerely believe that there is no proposal for sale or trade of this property that would meet the standard established for such transactions."
Cape Blanco Airport is a World War II-era airport in northern Curry County, surrounded mainly by forests, farms and Floras Lake State Park. It is owned and managed by the Oregon Aviation Department. But now Curry County wants to take over management of this airport, as part of its plan to acquire half (625 acres) of Floras Lake State Park, lease it to developers and create a massive resort that would include two golf courses, lodging, restaurants, trails and possibly private housing. Cape Blanco Airport would presumably be used to bring in well-heeled golfers and resort guests. Curry County prepared an application for the Aviation Department, which states that the basic upkeep funding would come from the County general fund, with a price tag of about $15,000 a year. Oregon Coast Alliance doubts very much that the County has this kind of money -- and that would cover only the most minimal costs, not the repairs totaling more than $1 million the State says are necessary. Cape Blanco Airport is not a "National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS)" facility, and thus is not eligible for Federal Aviation Administration funding. County-owned Brookings Airport is, but even though it receives FAA funding, it was still in the red by $14,000 this fiscal year, according to former County Commissioner Georgia Nowlin in an April 27, 2011 article in the Curry Coastal Pilot. The County's application for Cape Blanco upkeep just makes vague statements, such as "Additional resources will be retained as needed." Curry County is facing a $3 million budget shortfall in the next 2-3 years. There is certainly no income to maintain another airport. Curry County made a presentation to the ODA Board in April 2011, and the Department has requested more detailed information from the County before proceeding with any decision.
Cape Blanco Airport should be left as it is: a vintage, rural facility enjoyed by local pilots and available for use in an emergency such as a tsunami. It should not be part of a large resort complex proposed for the heart of the most unspoiled part of the Oregon coast. The resort proposal faces many other hurdles, including obstacles to approval by the Parks and Recreation Department, which would have to sign off on any exchange involving Floras Lake State Park. But in addition, Oregonians should not pretend that Cape Blanco Airport would be protected if it were transferred to County hands. It would either fall into disrepair, or be leased to private interests, who would upgrade it and create a much larger facility that would increase the traffic, noise and activity many times over in this quiet rural area. The nearby City of Port Orford is opposed to the transfer of the Airport to Curry County. Oregon Coast Alliance agrees with Port Orford's Mayor and City Council that the airport should be left to ODA's management, and Floras Lake State Park should not be the site of a golf resort.
For further information about the resort proposal, please see the article at Oregon Coast Alliance: Curry County, Cape Blanco Airport and Floras Lake State Park or contact Land Use Director Cameron La Follette at: email@example.com.
- Curry County Application for Acquisition, April 2011 (PDF, 930KB)
- ORCA letter to ODA re: Cape Blanco, April 2011 (PDF, 242KB)
©2011, Cameron La Follette. Published on OregonAviationWatch.org with the author's permission.