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The possibility of expanding the Salmon Air Base was proposed at the January 12 meeting of the Lemhi County Commissioners by North Fork District Ranger Ken Gebhardt.

Gebhardt told the board there is a need to enlarge the Air Base by adding another structure. He said plans and cost estimates are being developed and that the Forest Service and the Airport Board are working together towards the expansion goal.

He said approximately 42 firefighters are housed at the Salmon Air Base on a seasonal basis and during each season there are two national trainings that bring in around 100 firefighters per session. He said when the facility was originally designed plans called for only one toilet. He said the cost of porta-potties is now running from three to four thousand dollars a year. In addition to more toilets Gebhardt said there is a need for additional storage and maintenance facilities.

He said it looks as if there will be funding support to develop the facility so the question comes down to a subject that dates back to establishment of the base which is, water and sewer.

County Commissioner Chairman Rick Snyder recommended the Forest Service drill its own well and that there may have to be an enclosed sewer system. He went on to say the present facility far exceeds the original scope of the county/Forest Service lease agreement footprint which was for a small facility with a skeleton crew and no need for irrigation and no water trucks being filled. Regardless, he said he thinks all those details can be worked out.

Commissioner John Jakovac commented a solid waste water system in those heavy-clay ground conditions will be a real issue and Snyder suggested since it is a seasonal installation they might consider a vault and haul system. Jakovac said there is plenty of water coming from the well at the site which is shared by the Countyís Industrial Park and depending on the amount needed perhaps an agreement could be found to benefit all parties.

Gebhardt expressed a desire to see the original agreement which shows the borders of the leased land and he was referred to the Airport Board.

The commissioners acknowledged the economic boost the Air Base has contributed to the local economy and their willingness to work with the agency in its expansion goal.

Another seasonal topic discussed was the Salmon River Road in regards to snow and rock removal. The county is assailed every winter by some downriver road users who are under the impression it is up to the county to keep the road clear. In reality it is a Forest Service Road and under an agreement with the agency the agency is supposed to pay the county for any road work performed. Many residents are also under the impression their local taxes pay for road maintenance but they do not. The Road and Bridge Department is funded by federal monies such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes and the Secure Rural Schools Act plus some state monies related to the number of miles maintained on county-owned roads. The county receives no mileage monies for maintenance on Forest Service owned roads.

Road and Bridge Supervisor Kerrie Cheney said the agreement covers some periodic snow plowing but not rock removal. He said in the past the Forest Service had a small plow it used for Salmon River Road rock removal however he hasnít seen any sign of it this year. Cheney said callers are reporting that when they call the Forest Service for downriver road problems they are told to call the county and the county will take care of it, which is not in the agreement.

Gebhardt suggested scheduling a meeting between the Road and Bridge Department and Forest Service personnel including some of their staff engineers. He said with evaluation he thinks agreeable adjustments and understandings can be reached. He also indicated any misunderstandings at the Forest Service front desk about who is responsible for the road will be addressed.

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