Cal Fire has announced plans to possibly close one of its airport bases in a cost cutting move as the agency is still facing a $15.8 million dollar budget gap for this year. Cal Fire has one spotter plane and two tankers assigned to the Nevada County Airport during fire season, and Nevada County Airport manager Greg Marshall is hopeful Nevada County will not be the base to be closed. He says the Cal Fire Pilots and ground crew assigned to Nevada County Airport have expressed their satisfaction.
“They really like the location because we’re located to the point where they can get to fires quickly and we do really good service for them, too, which they appreciate. So I would hope that both our location and our prior performance would preclude us from being considered for elimination, although you never can tell.”
Marshall says it helps that Nevada County Airport has just received a $2.4 million dollar F-A-A grant to make needed improvements to the airport runway and surrounding areas. Cal Fire pays the airport for landing fees and fuel sales. As a side note, Marshall says sales of the JET A fuel used by Cal Fire is way down.
“It’s a good news/bad news thing. I’m certainly happy that we haven’t had any big fires, but my budget is hurting because we’re probably going to be off 10% or so.”
Cal Fire typically spends $100 thousand dollars a year between fuel sales and landing fees at the Nevada County Airport. The Airport operates on what’s called an enterprise fund; it is a non-subsidized, self sufficient Department of the County.