COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The USDA Forest Service is working with Colorado Springs to build a permanent airtanker firefighting base at the city's airport, officials announced on Friday.
The base, which will include a new ramp, will help support aerial wildland firefighting efforts across the region, including Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.
The Forest Service signed a lease with the Colorado Springs Airport on Friday, according to a news release from the city.
“We want to do everything we can to protect our beautiful state and our residents," Mayor John Suthers said in the news release. "As wildland firefighting continues to be a priority for western states, we continue to embrace our leadership role and we look forward to completion of this vital asset."
The city and the Forest Service will share the costs for the $20 million project. The base will include six fire retardant reload pits for airtankers that will be able to serve a 600-mile radius. Officials will break ground on the facility is scheduled for this spring, with construction set to begin in the summer. The base will be completed in 2021.
The Forest Service received funding for the project through the 2018 Omnibus Bill, which re-purposed funds within the agency.
The base will be located near the airport's main runway. When the Forest Service isn't using the base in the winter, the airport will use the space for de-icing aircraft, the release said.