National Parks Group Applauds Members of Congress for Supporting Senate FAA Bill Provision on Park Service Air Tours

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 30, 2010
Contact:   Bryan Faehner, NPCA Associate Director for Park Uses, Phone: 202.419.3700 Cell: 202.731.1847, bfaehner@npca.org


National Parks Group Applauds Members of Congress for Supporting Senate FAA Bill Provision on Park Service Air Tours

Washington, D.C.– Last week, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona and Rep. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii delivered a letter signed by them and nine other members of Congress to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Aviation Subcommittee leadership supporting a provision sponsored by Senator Wyden of Oregon in the Senate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The National Parks Conservation Association says passage of this bill would break a decade-old bureaucratic stalemate that has prevented air tour management plans from being completed at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Statute of Liberty National Monument, and other national park sites across the country where air tours occur.

Rep. Grijalva, who chairs the National Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee said “After 10 years of inaction, this provision will finally push the agencies toward ending their differences and developing air tour plans for our national parks, as Congress always intended.”

The FAA reauthorization bill includes amendments to the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000, which was enacted when Congress grew concerned that growing air tour operations needed to be made safer and that noise from unmanaged air tours was diminishing the outdoor experience of park visitors.  The Act requires the FAA and National Park Service to complete air tour management plans for those park sites where air tours take place and allows for multiple opportunities for the public to comment. It does not apply to Grand Canyon National Park or park units in Alaska, nor does it apply to general aviation and commercial airline aircraft.

“Just as the Federal Aviation Administration is the agency best suited to ensure air safety, the National Park Service is the agency best able to determine what makes an optimal national park experience.  This language will enable each agency to exercise its expertise and give park visitors what Congress intended: quieter parks and safer air tours,” Rep. Hirono stated.

“We applaud the efforts of Rep. Grijalva, Rep. Hirono, and nine other members of Congress who signed the letter for supporting this critical provision.  The decade-old bureaucratic stalemate that has prevented the completion of air tour plans over national parks as required by law must end. Ten years of memos and meetings between the FAA and the Park Service has failed to put a single air tour plan in place; we need help from Congress to ensure that air tours remain safe and that visitors can enjoy the natural sounds of nature,” said Bryan Faehner, associate director for park use at the National Parks Conservation Association.

In addition to Rep. Grijalva and Hirono, the letter was signed by Representatives Dicks, Moran, Duncan, DeFazio, Nadler, Sablan, Filner, Sires, and J. Jackson, Jr.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 325,000 members, and many partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit:  www.npca.org.

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