01.25.20

Gardner Applauds Plans for New Airtanker Base in Colorado Springs

The permanent airtanker base and ramp will support firefighting efforts

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) applauded the announcement from the City of Colorado Springs and the United States Forest Service to build a permanent airtanker base and new ramp at the Colorado Springs Airport. The new airtanker base will support aerial firefighting efforts in the Rocky Mountain region and surrounding areas. 

“Year after year, much of the West is forced to deal with horrible wildfires that burn millions of acres,” said Senator Gardner. “Our firefighters in Colorado and around the country risk everything to protect our communities, and it is our duty to make sure they have every possible tool at their disposal to safely fight wildfires. I’m excited to welcome this new airtanker base and ramp at the Colorado Springs Airport, which will serve as an incredible resource for the brave firefighters in Colorado and our surrounding areas.”

The announcement comes after the Forest Service and Colorado Springs Airport signed an agreement on January 24 to share the costs for construction and maintenance, currently budgeted for roughly $20 million. According to the Forest Service, the base will support airtankers of all sizes, including Very Large Airtankers, and be able to serve a 600-mile radius, including Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, southern Montana, southeastern Idaho, eastern Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, western Iowa, and western Missouri. 

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for the spring of 2020, with completion and a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 2021.

Background:

  • In November 2018, Senators Gardner and Bennet requested funding to modernize firefighting assets so the Forest Service can respond in a more efficient and cost-effective manner to devastating wildfires. The senators highlighted the need for a modern, highly-capable large airtanker and water-scooper fleet—proven to be one of the most effective immediate responses to limit the expansion of wildfires into uncontrollable mega-fires.
  • In March 2018, Senators Gardner and Bennet secured a long-term fire funding fix in the omnibus spending package to end fire borrowing and improve how the federal government pays to fight wildfires. 

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.