The U.S. Forest Service and city of Colorado Springs announced Friday plans to build a permanent fire air tanker base and ramp at Colorado Springs Airport, which will support aerial firefighting in the Rocky Mountain region.

“This will be a real asset for our community, forests and watershed,” Chaffee County Commissioner Greg Felt said. “It will provide a quicker and more reliable response to spreading wildfires, and the shorter they need to travel, the better. During the Decker Fire, we had planes coming from as far away as Grand Junction, so this will be great for the area.”

The 1½-acre base will be the largest of its kind in the region, with the ability to serve a 600-mile radius, covering Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.

It is budgeted at approximately $20 million to build, with groundbreaking scheduled for this spring.

The base will also provide support to southern Montana, southeastern Idaho, eastern Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, western Iowa and western Missouri.

“I am pleased to have been a part of the collaborative effort between the Colorado Springs Airport, the city of Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service to bring one of the nation’s largest, most state-of-the-art air tanker base units to the Colorado Springs Airport,” Rep. Doug Lamborn, (R-Colorado Springs) said in a press release.

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