U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines recently announced more than $8 million in federal funding to upgrade 13 airports across Montana. Helena received $3 million, Lincoln $500,000 and Three Forks $65,000.

When the general public thinks about airport service, we think of our flight to our vacation, or the transportation to a worksite or a business conference. However, if you come down ill when you are enjoying yourself in Lincoln, or floating the Beaverhead River near Dillon, speedy access to emergency care is paramount. Last week the FAA Airport Improvement Program announced $8 million dollars in grant funds that will be used to maintain 13 airports across the state, but will also give residents and vacationers in general a fighting chance if your outing goes sideways.

In an age of limited funding for basic infrastructure, our rural airport maintenance can be overlooked in comparison to potable water and functioning sewage treatment. When you are hurt though, access to a life flight airport can make the difference between life and death. Or when that summer smoke starts to billow, having a location for an initial attack firefighter airplane or helicopter to land can be the difference between a summer of enjoyment or the long trudge of a smoke-filled summer.