May 30, 2009

Idaho families survive postal cut

Twenty families in a roadless wilderness in Idaho say they've convinced the U.S. Postal Service to keep bringing their mail via airplane.

Service to the scattered residents on the Salmon River costs about 10 times the average cost of delivery -- $46,000 a year for plane service as the Postal Service faces a $6.5 billion budget deficit, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The families reside in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness -- the Postal Service's sole remaining air route into a wilderness in the continental United States.

Postal officials said they considered alternatives, including surface routes, but none would have provided acceptable service to the families, who have depended on pilot Ray Arnold, 72, and his Cessna 185 to bring them their mail, food and other supplies for the last 34 years.

There's a tremendous community among the people in this canyon, said ranch owner Doug Tims, 62, calling the mail plane the thread that ties it all together.