WINTHROP, Wash. (AP) — A new analysis is recommending that Washington’s only smokejumper base remain in the Methow Valley, considered the birthplace of smokejumping.
A group advising the U.S. Forest Service says the North Cascades Smokejumper Base near Winthrop should stay where it has been for nearly 80 years.
The first experimental jumps were made there in 1939. It’s one of seven in the Forest Service’s smokejumping program where wildland firefighters parachute often into remote wilderness to fight wildfires.
The base uses the Methow Valley Airport, which is federally funded but run by the state. Three buildings on site don’t comply with federal standards, jeopardizing federal money for the airport and prompting the need for changes.
A preliminary analysis explored a range of options and factors. It recommended the existing location, which would require about $5.2 million in construction money.
Wenatchee was a close second. Yakima was also an option but won’t be considered further.