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3/27/2012 9:41:00 AM
Gosar introduces legislation at odds with NPS overflight plan
Lawmaker says NPS overflight draft EIS based on "flawed data"
Photo/WGCN
Lawmakers continue to oppose the National Park Services attempts to preserve natural quiet over the Canyon. Congressman Gosar recently introduced legislation he claims will protect tourism jobs while still maintaining quiet near the Grand Canyon.
Photo/WGCN
Lawmakers continue to oppose the National Park Services attempts to preserve natural quiet over the Canyon. Congressman Gosar recently introduced legislation he claims will protect tourism jobs while still maintaining quiet near the Grand Canyon.

Clara Beard
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar recently introduced legislation that he said aims to protect tourism jobs while still preserving natural quiet at Grand Canyon National Park.

It comes at a time when the National Park Service (NPS) is looking to address noise impacts on the "natural quiet" of the Grand Canyon due to air tour flights.

The NPS has issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) aimed to restore natural quiet on the ground, but still allow for increased air traffic above the Canyon.

The plan allows for 8,000 more flights over the Canyon per year for a total of 65,000 while at the same time moving some route away from sensitive cultural, natural and visitor areas of the park. The plan also sets a daily cap of 364 flights over the Canyon per day.

Gosar said the NPS's regulations on air tours are based on "flawed data" that neglects to take into account the millions the industry has proactively invested to reduce noise.

"My bill is meant to protect this vital aspect of our tourism economy, which employs over 1,250 people and generates millions of dollars of economic activity," Gosar said about his Grand Canyon Tourism Jobs Protection Act of2012. "It ensures all visitors will have the ability to view the park by air if they wish to do so, but in a manner that maintains "natural quiet" for those visiting the Canyon by foot."

Sen. John McCain supports the overflight bill introduced by Gosar, which is similar to past legislation proposed by the lawmaker.

"I am proud to join my fellow Arizonans in the House in supporting the Grand Canyon overflights legislation introduced by Congressman Gosar. It represents a balanced approach to closing out the troubled 25-year long process that began under the National Parks Overflight Act of 1987. Unfortunately, the Nation Park Service has proposed a flawed air tour management plan that will decimate air tourism industry. Through this bill we can achieve our goal of preserving the natural quiet of the Grand Canyon while also maintaining the unique visitation experience for the elderly and disabled that only air tours can provide."

An overflight plan is a requirement by the 1987 National Parks Overflights Act. Before the Park Service could move forward, a definition of "natural quiet" needed to be established, which NPS has been studying for a number of years.

If approved, the NPS overflight plan would move most non-air tour operations outside the park, require air tour operators to convert to quiet technology within 10 years and provide for one hour of air traffic free time after sunrise and before sunset each day.

While quiet technology on aircraft will be mandatory after 10 years, there are incentives included in the plan for early adopters, including access to some restricted air routes.

According to NPS officials, "natural quiet" will have been achieved when 50 percent of the park is absent of aircraft noise for 75-100 percent of the day, every day.

Over the next ten years, the park hopes to increase that number to 67 percent of the park.

Arizona Congressmen Trent Franks, David Schweikert, Ben Quayle, Jeff Flake, and the Nevada Congressional Delegation joined Gosar as original co-sponsors of the Grand Canyon Tourism Jobs Protection Act of 2012.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Article comment by: Seamus McCarthy

Gosar's assertion that the NPS data is flawed is not based in fact, but in politics. Support of political contributors has trumped protecting our national park. Teddy Roosevelt would be enraged.

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous commenter

This is another perfect example of politicians wanting to say that they have cut burdensome regulations and reaching into something that is much more complicated than they seem able to understand. The NPS alternative is hardly different than the park's current state, but would require innovation and investment (words we all like) in new, quieter aircraft. The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful, and in many places undisturbed landmarks in the country. Deregulating overflights would only serve to mar that wilderness.

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Article comment by: Bob Switzer

This is great news...the NPS plan would have cost the area visitors and put people out of work..The Grand National Park is to be enjoyed by all...not just the special few the Park approves



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