As a homeowner and backcountry pilot in Custer County, I oppose Michael Boren’s private airport in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

I am not opposed to ranchers operating airstrips on their private land. However, Boren’s Hell Roaring Ranch lies within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and has a scenic easement attached. In order to operate an airport, he must have permission from Custer County, but also requires federal permission from the Forest Service, the {span}Federal Aviation Administration {/span}and the E{span}nvironmental Protection Agency{/span}. His airstrip was constructed and operated before any of these permits were approved, meaning it is out of compliance.

More than 400 people wrote letters of opposition to approval of his county permit, many of us from Custer County. Neighbors and wilderness users have complained that the noise from Boren’s flights negatively impact this special place. Many bought their land nearby thinking scenic easements protected everyone’s property rights.

If Michael Boren’s airport is allowed, it sets a dangerous precedent for others who will take advantage of it. Custer County must protect the Sawtooth National Recreation Area for future generations.

Richard Hesselbacher


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