NPS Taking Comments on Grand Canyon Overflights Noise

After thirty years of complaints that air tour noise over Grand Canyon is too loud, and decades of planning, studies, court cases and attempts at special interest legislation, Grand Canyon National Park has just released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on protecting natural quiet in Grand Canyon. The DEIS is called the Special Flight Rules Area in the Vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park.
The public has until June 20, 2011, to comment on the plan.
A short video on overflights in Grand Canyon is now available on the River Runners for Wilderness web site here:
River Runners for Wilderness encourages you to take a few minutes to protect our iconic Grand Canyon National Park. Your brief note explaining how the park's natural quiet is important to you will help the Park Service do the right thing. In your own words, you might note:
- The parks were created to protect natural resources, including natural quiet.  The parks were not created to promote commercial industries that adversely impact visitor experience of the Park's natural resources.
- The Park should not allow an increase in overflights. To do so will take away the Park's ability to allow the public to hear natural quiet, an endangered resource in today's world.
- In our industrialized society, it is important that we save a few places for contemplative recreation. Tourists from around the world come to America's national parks as they are the best place for contemplative recreation and personal renewal. Decreasing the number of overflights over Grand Canyon will help preserve this resource.
- Tribal lands at the west and east ends of the Grand Canyon will be exempt from annual flight allocations and daily caps.  As these lands are increasingly impacted by more tour rides, it is even more important to protect peace and quiet inside the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park.
- All other recreation, including permits for river running, hiking, overnight visitation at Phantom Ranch and mule rides, has all been capped for decades to protect park resources.  Since 1975, the number of air tour rides has increased almost tenfold.  Tell the NPS the number of overflights should be reduced to the 1975 levels, when Congress first indicated there was a problem through the passage of the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act.
- The 1987 Overflights Act dictates that there shall be no flights below the rim, yet flights are still allowed well below the rim.  The Park Service should implement and enforce the law with no tour or passenger shuttle flights below the rim.
- Encourage the NPS to increase the curfews (sunrise to first flight, and last flight to sundown) from as little as 14 minutes currently, to one hour.
The air tour industry has considerable political clout. River runners who find natural quiet in Grand Canyon a valuable resource need to counter the air tour industry's push for more intrusive, noisy rides.  There are several ways for you to comment:
The EIS can be reviewed at by clicking on "Open for Comment" and then clicking on the special Flight Rules item for the Grand Canyon.  This page lists the documents and provides a "Comment on Document" button.
Or, you can mail comments to:
Office of Planning and Compliance
            Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ  86023
The NPS will be holding open house meetings where you may also make your views known:
Phoenix AZ, Wednesday April 6, 2011, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Phoenix Biltmore, Junior Ballroom, 2630 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona.
Flagstaff, AZ, Thursday, April 7, 2011, from 4:30p.m.  to 6:30 p.m.  High Country Conference Center, 1899 Room, 201 W. Butler Ave. Flagstaff, Arizona.
Henderson, NV, Thursday, April 14, 2011, from 4:30p.m.  to 6:30 p.m.  Wingate by Wyndham, Wingate Ballroom, 3041 Saint Rose Parkway, Henderson, Nevada.