On the Boards: North Cascades Smokejumper Base
The new North Cascades Smokejumper Base will provide state-of-the-art training, operations, and administrative spaces, along with improved location and serviceability.
Originally established in 1940, the base utilizes the Methow Valley Airport, which is operated by the State of Washington. Located on approximately 19 acres of U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to the airport, it sits within the “Object Free Area” of the airport, which according to FAA standards must be clear to ensure safe aircraft operations.
With the need to move the facility to a new site near the airport, the client chose the option of a new building, and Cushing Terrell was awarded the design contract. The new 16,565 sq. ft. facility will replace three existing buildings — an office, paraloft building, and saw shop. The new building will include operations and administrative office space, a large conference room, a breakroom, and shower facilities. Additionally, the facility will house spaces unique to smokejumper operations, such as an expansive space for maintaining the riggings and parachutes, a tower where the parachutes are hung to dry, and a sewing room. The project scope also included analysis of the site infrastructure including water, septic, power, and telecommunications.
The facility was designed to support mission critical tasks and serve as the operations base for rapid and extended wildfire incidents, as well as to support activities related to local prescribed burns, hazardous fuels reduction, timber management, and local interagency ecosystem management.
The Methow Valley is considered the birthplace of smoke jumping and began experimental trials here in 1939. Read more about the history here.