The Casper/Natrona County International Airport is more than an Airport! After six years of planning, designing, and construction, the Airport grounds are now the home base for a new BLM Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT) and Large Air Tankers (LAT) Base used to fight wildfires in Wyoming and surrounding regions. The central location of the base allows the SEATs and LATs to fly to anywhere in Wyoming in under an hour to assist in fighting wildfires.

What is a SEAT and LAT base?

A SEAT and LAT base includes mixing tanks filled with fire retardant material and a connection hose to retrieve water from a fire hydrant, the space allows the two liquids to mix as they are loaded into the aircraft.

Since 2009, the BLM has leased a single acre of land at the Airport as a SEAT base. Now, the newly constructed base is larger, sitting at 5.2 acres, more supportive of aircraft and staff, and completely operated by the BLM. Wildfires in the west are growing in size and frequency and last longer than decades past. When describing the size of wildfires, the BLM now talks in millions of acres, not thousands. In the first year of the SEAT base in 2009, 55 wildfires were responded to. With the increased size and capacity of the new base, the BLM is able to respond to over 150 calls a year, filling a much-needed gap in Wyoming and surrounding areas.

Collaboration with BLM, Wyoming State Forestry Division, and U.S. Forest Service

The SEAT base came into fruition through a theme of collaboration. It is the only base in the country that was jointly built by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Casper is also the exclusive home to two SEAT planes, contracted by the Wyoming State Forestry Division. The modernized base now has the ability to load two planes (SEAT and/or LAT) at the same time with a maximum daily output of 80,000–90,000 gallons of mixed retardant compared to the previous 15,000-gallon output.

Airport Director, Glenn Januska, spoke at the ribbon cutting event of the SEAT/LAT base saying, “We jumped at the opportunity to partner with all the organizations involved in making this a reality. The SEAT base is a true testament that if you have a group of people willing to work together with one shared focus and end goal, you can complete a project of this capacity. I am very proud of the project and to house the facility here at the Airport.”

The future is bright for the base, and this is not where the progress ends for wildfire fighting in Wyoming. Future plans include the construction of a new heli-base adjacent to the SEAT/LAT base for the State Forestry Division. We are thrilled to have been able to help bring each of these agencies together for the sole purpose of getting this base operational for the benefit of Wyoming and surrounding states.

blm seat base

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