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The Associated Press

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service are considering four options for a helicopter base for firefighting and search-and-rescue operations.

Two proposed locations for a permanent base are at Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park. Another is near the Blackrock Ranger Station in Bridger-Teton National Forest east of Moran.

No location is offered for another proposal, which would be to build a temporary helibase.

The federal government’s preferred site is just east of the airport’s development zone and next to a temporary helibase being used now. The Park Service limits building to within the development zone.

The other proposed site at the airport, a little to the west, is also outside the development zone.

The helibase would cover five acres and have a 2,500-square-foot office building, a 5,000-square-foot hangar, three landing pads and a parking area.

Competition within the development zone is fierce as commercial airlines, general aviation, rental car companies and parking needs vie for space.

Jackson Hole Airport Board members have been concerned that putting a helibase at the airport would consume valuable space. Airport officials have other plans for the space being used for the temporary heliport.

The airport board leased the temporary helibase to the federal agencies for two years. The board will renew the lease when it expires Nov. 30, according to federal officials.

Grand Teton and Bridger-Teton officials began using the temporary base last year after they had to move from behind Forest Service buildings in Jackson because of encroaching development.

Federal officials decided the base was too close to buildings and unsafe because its configuration required downwind departures. Also, the land is slated for development as part of a new interagency facility.

An environmental study of the four possible locations is available for public comment until July 27.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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