Chicken Strip Protection Urged
There aren't many "clothing optional" $100 hamburger destinations and the aviation community is being urged to help protect the unique, uh, nature of the so-called Chicken Strip in Death Valley National Park in eastern California. The National Parks Service (NPS) is pondering the future of the Saline Valley Warm Springs, an isolated but popular wilderness camping area focused on the warm natural mineral pools that anchor a small desert oasis there. The Chicken Strip is a gravel runway maintained under contract by the Recreational Aircraft Foundation near the oasis. Those who'd like to see it continue as an alternative to the four-hour suspension-destroying drive to the springs are being asked to comment on the NPS's Summary of Preliminary Alternatives (PDF) for the oasis and the airstrip.
That document doesn't seem to be much of a threat to continued existence of the strip. Indeed, all but one of the scenarios envisioned by NPS planners (restoring it to its natural state) calls for it to be retained. However one of the proposals would turn over maintenance and regulation of the airstrip to the parks service and that would impose some restrictions on the airstrip's use. As for the rest of the area, the alternatives seem to suggest that there will be some tidying up of hazardous materials storage, some restrictions on camping and a little attention paid to the on-site vehicle repair service (the roads really are that bad). The ability to enjoy all of those activities in the buff will be retained, however.