Forest Service begins renovation of Medford Airtanker Base ramp

Photo by Justin Bohannan / courtesy U.S. Forest Service (Facebook)

The ramp has had issues with cracking and degradation in areas over the past two decades, RRSNF said, requiring intermittent patchwork to repair it. Those issues have raised aircraft safety concerns.

Posted: Jun 3, 2021 10:11 AM
Updated: Jun 3, 2021 10:54 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service indicated Thursday that it is in the midst renovations of the Medford Airtanker Base ramp apron, the area where firefighting aircraft are parked and loaded, as fire season begins in southern Oregon.

According to a statement from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the agency received omnibus grant funding to upgrade the ramp apron in 2019. Over the past eight months, forestry officials have been working with the Jackson County Airport Authority to incorporate the rehabilitation project into a new 20-year lease.


Photo by Justin Bohannan / courtesy U.S. Forest Service (Facebook)

The ramp has had issues with cracking and degradation in areas over the past two decades, RRSNF said, requiring intermittent patchwork to repair it. Those issues have raised aircraft safety concerns.

“We’re pleased to receive this funding so the aircraft can navigate the ramp more easily,” said Tanker Base manager Justin Bohannan.

Work on the ramp will prohibit use of the area at the outset of fire season, but RRSNF officials said that a number of factors went into the timing — taking into account the need for good weather, increasing material costs, and the current availability of the Klamath Falls Airtanker Base to serve as a stand-in while repairs are underway. Officials decided to move forward with the deadline of completion by July 1.

“These repairs will give us continuous airtanker loading capabilities and coverage for Southern Oregon and Northern California and allow us to get these safety issues corrected before the height of our fire season, said Amanda Lucas, Unit Aviation Officer for RRSNF and the BLM Medford District.

If the ramp is needed for firefighting efforts while repairs are underway, tankers will have several contingencies — using the Klamath Falls Airtanker Base during the early season, and transitioning to the use of a mobile retardant base that is expected to be ready on the east cargo ramp by June 20.

Construction began on May 27, and is expected to wrap up at the end of four weeks. The Very Large Airtanker (VLAT) ramp is also supposed to be up and running on June 21, and officials say there will be "no break in the availability of retardant with the ramp work."

“We really appreciate the cooperation of Jackson County Airport Authority to work with us to make this happen, as we could not have gotten this project completed without them. Working in partnership with them helped keep the cost down and get the work completed in the needed timeframe,” said Lucas.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 362561

Reported Deaths: 4334
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah56445713
Washington39207326
Marion37314457
Clackamas30208312
Lane28166308
Jackson23297314
Deschutes20819125
Umatilla14616151
Linn13198132
Douglas12294251
Josephine9476198
Yamhill8868114
Klamath8194122
Polk750281
Malheur570079
Benton562431
Coos512396
Columbia388944
Jefferson382456
Lincoln325540
Union322950
Crook298146
Wasco293341
Clatsop245528
Baker205229
Tillamook198333
Hood River196637
Morrow187123
Curry182925
Harney114927
Grant100813
Lake96112
Wallowa69512
Gilliam1624
Sherman1603
Wheeler1081
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 4854041

Reported Deaths: 71417
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148510526549
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3678574183
San Bernardino3586775720
Orange3251235578
Sacramento1596362313
Kern1472941652
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921415
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen758747
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
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Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
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