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EcoFlight in Idaho gives conservation groups a sky-high look at different development projects

Eco Flight
Posted at 3:49 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 19:23:39-04

IDAHO — Several areas in Idaho are under scrutiny for the possible development of everything from housing to wind farms. One nonprofit, EcoFlight, wants to give conservation groups a better look at these projects by taking to the sky.

Bruce Gordon started EcoFlight in 2000 after seeing resource extraction companies had access to airplanes but conservationists did not.

“Our mission is to educate and advocate for the environment using small planes and we do this by having people really become informed,” Gordon said.

Planes help this mission by giving perspective.

“When you’re up in an airplane, you are looking at the whole landscape,” Gordon said.

Gordon told Idaho News 6 how a flight with EcoFlight works.

"You get people up that are knowledgeable about the issues, with maps aboard, with a briefing beforehand to understand where you are because once you’re in the airplane, it’s all sort of exciting, but I always feel that people are more aware in the airplane. So it’s a great format, it’s a great platform for people to listen and understand."

This isn't just for the passengers on the plane.

“We create videos and virtual tours, especially during the time of COVID when we were not flying passengers, Gordon said. "So it’s an informational resource for people who care about the environment.”

Gordon doesn’t just do this in Idaho, he flies his plane all over the world for EcoFlight.

“I’ve actually taken a little plane across the Atlantic and worked in Africa doing wildlife surveys. We’ve been down in Central and South America working with indigenous nations and people like that,” he said.

Gordon said he has flights in Idaho a few times a year. In 2019, there was an EcoFlight over the Owyhee Canyonlands to discuss the Owyhee Initiative, which protects the land and the livelihood of those who depend on it.

In 2020, Gordon created four virtual tours of Idaho land including the Sand Creek desert, Centennial Range, Granite Meadows and land involved in the Stibnite Mine project.

Gordon had several flights in the Gem State this week. On Monday, Gordon, members of the Idaho Conservation League and other passengers flew over the Stibnite Mine area to discuss a proposed mine expansion.

On Tuesday he piloted flights over endowment land in McCall, near Payette Lake, which are part of a proposed land swap. Wednesday they were in Twin Falls, looking at the landscape around Shoshone and Picabo. Both areas are involved in a proposed wind farm.