Frequently Asked Questions

The Port is updating the FAA airport master plan, what are the key issues?

  • The Port is investigating adding a weather station and instrument approach to meet Med Evac needs. The commission has rejected west side off airport property weather station locations due to negative impact to the airport and neighbors and will explore onsite airport locations.
  • The commissioners have turned down the FAA proposal to relocate Eagles Roost and Meadow Lane (at the south end of the runway) out of the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ); moving these roads was not required and there are many busier roads operated safely and legally within RPZ’s in the state.
  • The commission will consider future possible acquisition of airport buffer properties only from willing sellers including, within the Runway Protection Zone.

Why did the Port build a fly-in camping and a picnic area at the airport?

  • The updated fly-in camping area allows fly-in visitors to over night camp on a pleasant airport grass area and hike or bike on Lopez.
  • This small picnic shelter and fly-in camping area was funded with a county public facilities grant. 
  • All labor was donated by local pilots, led by Bruce Dunlop.
  • Come out and watch airplanes land and take-off and use the new picnic area.

Why has the Port purchased land at both ends of the airport and cleared trees?

  • In 2012 the FAA listed both ends of the airport as unsafe to landing aircraft because of the obstructing trees.
  • The Port now has acquired most of the critical parcels at each end of the airport and have removed most trees obstructing landing and departing airplanes, making the airport safer and meeting FAA requirements.
  • The critical properties were converted into pasture land for local farming.
  • Topping trees is more expensive than cutting trees and does not solve the problems long term.
  • For information about the area where the trees have been removed north of airport, click link below: 2016 tree clearing site map

Is Lopez Airport is an economic engine for our island?

  •  Annually there are 5000 to 6000 flights in and out of Lopez Airport.
  • Commercial aircraft make up about 50% of these flights serving island needs.  Including: daily delivery of overnight express packages, daily delivery of clinic lab samples for testing, transporting workers and professionals and allowing families to live on-island and commute to work.
  • The majority of flights into and out of Lopez airport are from off-island aircraft.
  • Emergency medical transports from the airport are up, and will continue to rise, the airport is the safest and most dependable location for Med Evacs.

What is my Port property tax used for?

  • Port property tax is used to maintain and operate Lopez Airport and Bayview Day Park.  Note:  FAA – AIP funds can only be used for FAA approved capital airport projects.
  • Port taxes are also used for projects supporting the Port’s goals.
  • Lopez Port successfully operates on one of the lowest Port Tax Incomes in the State (bottom 10%).

Does the State Constitution mandate that Ports engage in economic activity?

  • Many Ports, like the Port of Lopez, stimulate the local economy in a variety of ways, but there is nothing in the State Constitution relating to a mandate. http://leg.wa.gov/LawsAndAgencyRules/Pages/constitution.aspx  
  • In Article 8, Section 8 the Constitutions states: “The use of public funds by port districts in such manner as may be prescribed by the legislature for industrial development or trade promotion and promotional hosting shall be deemed a public use for a public purpose, and shall not be deemed a gift within the provisions of section 7 of this Article.”  It is termed a use for a purpose.
  • Likewise in  RCW 53.04.010 (1) Port districts are hereby authorized to be established in the various counties of the state for the purposes of acquisition, construction, maintenance, operation, development and regulation within the district of harbor improvements, rail or motor vehicle transfer and terminal facilities, water transfer and terminal facilities, air transfer and terminal facilities, or any combination of such transfer and terminal facilities, and other commercial transportation, transfer, handling, storage and terminal facilities, and industrial improvements
  • The term “Mandate” comes from the Washington Public Ports Association, a nonprofit entity established by the State legislature in 1961 to promote the interests of the Port Community through effective government relations, ongoing education and strong advocacy programs.  From the WPPA Economic Development page: “Washington ports have a crucial mandate: job creation.  A port district is uniquely capable of creating economic growth and increasing the number of family wage jobs in a community, because of the specific authorities granted by the legislature.  Ports are the only public agencies whose primary purpose is economic development.”
  • Ports are given the latitude to promote economic development in a number of ways.   Examples of port investments include marine terminals, airport facilities, improved rail infrastructure, industrial parks and marinas.  Interestingly, Ports are not allowed to pursue projects, like housing and solid waste, that are the obligation of municipalities.  The Lopez airport, operated by the Port, is already a significant economic driver for the community.
  • The Lopez Port Commission is committed to investigate and consider additional appropriate economic development programs that most Lopezians support after understanding the benefits, costs and risks.

If information that you are looking for is not here: contact Helen at 360-468-4116 or contact a Port Commissioner.