November 22, 2014

Grand Canyon to remain noisy, at least for now

On the North Rim in the Dragon Corridor, flying below the rim. The Overflights Act of 1987 forbids flying below the rim, but FAA rule instructs pilots to fly there. Photo by Dennis Brownridge.

On the North Rim in the Dragon Corridor, flying below the rim. The Overflights Act of 1987 forbids flying below the rim, but FAA rule instructs pilots to fly there. Photo by Dennis Brownridge.

When the National Park Service released its draft noise plan for the Grand Canyon several months ago, it was expected to extend quiet hours in the morning and evening, move air tour routes away from popular areas during certain seasons, and limit air-tour numbers in the future (see theYodeler.org/?p=1064). Sen. John McCain (AZ), however, has undermined this decades-long effort to reduce the impacts of aircraft overflights in the Grand Canyon.

With no public debate, McCain slipped a last-minute amendment into the recent transportation bill that was passed by Congress and signed in July by Pres. Obama. The law will now allow unlimited aircraft noise in half the park, and allow air tour noise 25% of the day in the rest. Further, under certain conditions, air-tour numbers can increase in the future.

For years the National Park Service had carried out noise studies (costing taxpayers $6 million) including hundreds of hours of public meetings and almost 30,000 public comments.

The National Park Service is currently reviewing how to incorporate the amendment into its Final Environmental Impact Statement or into subsequent noise-mitigation planning.

The park and its allies will now be forced to develop new strategies in their efforts to reduce air-tour noise in Grand Canyon National Park.

reprinted from Sierra Club Desert Report at www.desertreport.org

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