PHOTO: The Forest Service recently awarded a contract for the design and construction of a new helicopter base on the Payson Ranger District. The facility is expected to be operational by the beginning of the 2022 fire season.
The $4.9 million facility will be located next to Gila County’s maintenance yard near Star Valley and will house the forest’s contract helicopter and the firefighters assigned to the new base. In addition, the facility will support multiple helicopters during wildfire season.
“This new facility will improve our firefighting capacity in the area, provide additional flexibility during periods of high fire danger and allow us to better respond to fires in the area,” said Acting Fire Management Officer Will Balcom, of the Payson Ranger District.
For the past 16 years, the helicopter base has been maintained as a temporary facility at the Payson Airport, which required the forest to set up and break down every year.