Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Postal Service ending last backcountry mail drop

Howard Berkes of National Public Radio reports the U.S. Postal Service will end the nation's last backcountry mail plane service to more than 20 addresses in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho this June. (Encarta map)

Residents are struggling with how they will cope when the service is eliminated. The weekly mail drop costs about $44 a week per customer and has served ranches, outfitters, lodges and a University of Idaho research station for 50 years, but the annual $46,000 price tag is too much for the USPS to continue.

Instead, it will provide free mailboxes at a post office in the Valley County seat of Cascade (lower left on map), a move that confounds locals. "Many of these places are inaccessible totally, except by air," Carol Arnold, whose Arnold Aviation company has had a mail-plane contract for 34 years.

"If you take that point of view to the entire mail system, there's a huge swath of rural America that wouldn't be served by regular mail service," resident Doug Tims told NPR. "They've (had) the commitment over the years to the American public to deliver the mail. And I think this is part of that commitment." Read more here.

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