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Supervisors approve airport lease for Forest Service


Joshua Sebold - Staff Writer

The Plumas County Board of Supervisors approved a lease agreement at a mid-May meeting, allowing the Forest Service to use 4.5 acres of land at the Beckwourth Nervino Airport to build a multiagency fire center.

County Director of Facility Services Joe Wilson told the board the airport would receive $13,500 per year from the federal agency in an agreement his background material indicated was based on a lease at the Hemet airport in Southern California.

The background material indicated a consumer price index would allow for annual adjustments to the annual contribution from the Forest Service, but payments would never go below the initial amount.

The document also explained the price would be adjusted every five years to ensure it was 8 percent of the property's appraised fair market value.

The agreement also included a 10 cents per gallon "fuel flowage fee" to be paid by the federal agency for fuel pumped into any vehicles used by the Forest Service or its subcontractors at the airport.

Wilson said the lease was for one year, with 29 renewal options, but "They've indicated since they are investing so much money, $2.2 million, into the property that they will be renewing all 29."

In his background document Wilson explained the $2.2 million is stimulus funding allocated to the Forest Service for the design and construction of "a 24-person barracks unit, a fire station with six bays, and a storage building for equipment, as well as a helipad and a parking apron for the helicopters."

Wilson told the board the lease was for land in the northeast corner of the airport, along Industrial Way.

Background materials added the Beckwourth Fire District entered a separate agreement with the Forest Service to provide structural protection to the new base, which would also "allow them to be strategically located for a quicker response to portions of their service area."

Wilson's material listed additional perks from the agreement to include the possibility of "bringing in an air ambulance service" and the fact the Forest Service would bring in electrical and wastewater services, allowing the county "to more easily market and develop the north side of the airport."

County Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad said he hadn't found time to look at the contract yet and wanted board approval to be contingent upon his, Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall, and Acting County Counsel Brian Morris approval of the agreement.

Thrall and Ingstad voiced reservations about the lack of a diagram or description of what the actual buildings would look like.

Wilson said the Forest Service was taking a "design and build" approach: The contractor doing the work would also design the structures. "It's not going to be an air attack base initially. Perhaps in the future, if we have a runway extension and a taxiway on that side of the airport, that might be a feasibility."

Ingstad asked what kind of hurdles were left in terms of other agencies approving the lease and construction.

Wilson said he already received approval on the lease and construction concept from the Federal Aviation Administration and the county's airport land use committee.

Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Randy Wilson has approved the special use permit and environmental document for the project

After the board added its approval to the list, Eastern Plumas Supervisor Terry Swofford asked if the Forest Service would use as many local people as possible in the construction process.

Plumas National Forest Supervisor Alice Carlton said, "The idea of the Recovery Act, as you know, is to get the people to work."

She said the main contract would go to one of two companies, from Reno, Nev. or Yuba City, because a large contractor was required, but "We expect that they will pick up a lot of local workers, as much as they can."

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