Residents Rally In Support Of Boulder Airport Amid Closure Debate


In response to a recent campaign calling for the closure of Boulder Municipal Airport, a group of residents issued a counter-petition voicing their support for the airport’s continued operation.

The airport has been at the center of a contentious debate as the city grapples with various proposals for its future, including keeping the existing airport with upgraded facilities, improving some aspects of the airport while adding new amenities, or decommissioning it altogether for development. 

Several residents have signed a petition in support of the latter, with many expressing frustration with noise and the dangers of leaded aviation gasoline.

However, while not impossible, closing the airport would be an uphill battle. In an April 2023 letter to the mayor, the FAA reminded the city of its obligation to maintain the airport after accepting some $12.7 million in AIP funds. Additionally, with 59 based aircraft and 50,000 annual operations, the FAA said Boulder Municipal Airport serves an important role within the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) and is healthy by any general aviation airport standards the FAA said.

Further, the letter noted, “It is FAA’s policy to strengthen the national airports system and not to support the closure of public airports. The FAA has rarely approved an application to close an airport. Such approvals were only in highly unusual circumstances where closing the airport provided a benefit to civil aviation.”

Meanwhile the campaign to keep the airport open has garnered widespread support. Proponents argue that closure would pose significant risk to the community, cost at least $100 million dollars, require drawn-out legal proceedings with the FAA and would not allow for new home developments for approximately 20 years.

Supporters emphasized the airport’s critical role during emergencies with one writing, “The Boulder Airport is a critical piece to our city. As a local that is born and raised in Boulder and that lived half a mile down the road from the airport I have experienced and witnessed the critical times when the airport has come into play during wildfires in the Boulder area, 2013 Flood, and many other times.” Another resident criticized any attempt to close the airport as a “short-sighted justification for destroying irreplaceable vital infrastructure.”

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.


  1. It is nice to see residents come to the defense of the airport for once. The lead pollution issue is a red herring used to stir up concerns among citizens ignorant of the actual exposure. Studies done at other airports in California and Colorado have shown that the actual lead exposure is well below any federal or consensus health standards. Having said that, it is another example that the FAA needs to stop dithering over the 100LL issue and just get on with approving an unleaded fuel. Otherwise, this tactic will just keep appearing across the country any time some developer wants to grab airport land.

  2. 50,000 annual operations? Sounds like a lot.

    Slightly over 6 an hour. Based on a 24 hour day. Hardly seems worth staying open.

    • First of all, it’s more realistic to think of a 12-hour day. Now your math pencils out to 12 per hour, or one every five minutes. That’s pretty heavy utilization of a single-runway airport.
      Second, airports are backups for each other. If a pilot were headed to another airport that gets closed — say, because of a gear-up landing — it’s more than just nice to have an option within one’s fuel range.
      Third, think air ambulance, first responders, various emergency services.
      Fourth, if you want airline pilots, they need to get their training somewhere.
      The list goes on.

  3. The US Parachute Association has used these FAA grant provisions to successfully defeat many of these pilots, complainers, and airport authorities trying ban to skydivers from their precious fields. Boulder either returns the money or ignores the whiners. Methinks a lot of this has to do with developers wanting the land.

  4. Lead pollution studies at that exact airport and others were buried and required a Freedom of information Act request to bring them to light. After decades of operation only one location, a house with known lead problems, indicated a marginal hazard. So, a solution in search of a problem. Boulder County board officials have chosen to ignore the report.
    The proposal wants to levy a 50 cent per gallon penalty on 100LL fuel, when there is no other alternative and there won’t be until FAA gets moving on this. So, another solution in search of a problem. Pilots and owners have repeatedly stated THEY want no-lead fuels as well as it increases engine life.
    Opponents complained about noise in a literal open-door meeting, a hangar with the door open. The same people complaining they have to sleep in their closets didn’t notice that in more than two hours of meeting, the proceeding wasn’t interrupted by noise. These are the same people who complain about touch-and-go landings, as if that is louder. The need to do touch and goes for the purpose of practicing safe landings falls on deaf ears.
    Sheriff’s deputies had to restore order three times during the meeting. Proponents of the bill shouted down the pilots/owners/businessmen to the point where they didn’t get to, and also were afraid to testify.

  5. Follow the money, see who is supporting the campaigns of the politicians calling for the closure. I am sure you will find developers who are salivating over this property. The citizens know that the closure of the airport will result in congestion, burdening government services and in the end higher taxes. The lead issue is a red herring at best and it to will be gone within a decade.

  6. At Detroit City Airport (KDET) the crosswind runway (7/25) has been “permanently” closed by the local mayor via a NOTAM. His plan is to carve out 80 acres from the field to bring in “indusry and jobs”. No help from the AOPA despite the local pilot community crying out for help. I just let my AOPA membership expire after about 30 years.

  7. The pilots and business owners could take a lesson from the city council snowflakes attempting to shutdown the Santa Monica airport(SMO) in California.
    So far they have shortened the runway by 1,000 feet. (For safety??????) banned the selling of aviation fuel, which had to be reinstated. There is a “takeoff fee” for non based aircraft(my fee is $25 per takeoff) Some flight schools have left.

    Why? The city council wants to use the land for hi rise condos.
    Keep fighting!

  8. for crying out loud.. get real, i used to be a bark nibbling tree hugger, now i know the value of airports, the airport should advise the closer segment the airport can freely send out an advisory letter to potental buyers of property around the airport of long litigations for “lead contamination” and nobody will buy their property, not to mention the noise problem, i hope that the closer people ALL drive electric cars and use electric lawnmowers… get real all you Karens… the airport was there longh before you were… Airports are vital to the growth of an area.

  9. Close the Boulder airport to let some group of greedy developers slap up more condos? I think not. The front range has had enough of that kind of thinking.