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Contact: Kaitlyn Thomas, 202-763-3440Moab, Utah – The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed air tour management plans for Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Natural Bridges National Monument on October 21, 2022. The plans establish measures to protect park resources, including outstanding geologic, ecologic, and cultural resources, and preservation of wilderness character and visitor experience.
“The purpose of air tour management plans is to ensure that park resource values, including natural sounds, wildlife, and other natural and cultural resources, are protected in in Arches, Canyonlands, and Natural Bridges,” said Patricia Trap, Southeast Utah Group Superintendent. “The plans establish a compromise between protecting park landscapes while ensuring opportunities for continued air tours over the parks.”
Commercial air tours have occurred over Arches, Canyonlands, and Natural Bridges for many years without defined operating parameters. The air tour management plans will protect national park resources and values by providing management oversight and continued education.
The Arches plan authorizes up to 309 air tours per year on four defined routes conducted over the park and up to ½-mile outside the park’s boundary. There were on average 309 air tours per year reported over Arches National Park from 2017 – 2019.
The Canyonlands plan authorizes up to 367 air tours per year on 13 defined routes conducted over the park and up to ½-mile outside the park’s boundary. There were on average 367 air tours per year reported over Canyonlands National Park from 2017 – 2019.
The Natural Bridges plan authorizes up to 73 air tours per year on five defined routes conducted over the park and up to ½-mile outside the park’s boundary. There were on average 73 air tours per year reported over Natural Bridges National Monument from 2017 – 2019.
The operating parameters of the plan will be effective within 90 days from the date of signature on the air tour management plans.
Arches, Canyonlands, and Natural Bridges are among 24 parks in the National Park System for which the FAA and NPS are developing air tour management plans. Each air tour management plan is developed to allow air tours to be managed in a way that is consistent with the NPS’s mission and the FAA’s authority to ensure flight safety. The plans meet the requirements from the National Parks Air Tour Management Act to mitigate or prevent significant adverse impacts from commercial air tours on the park and NPS’s obligation to protect the park's natural and cultural resources, wildlife, and visitor enjoyment.
An important part of the process is the inclusion of Traditionally Associated American Indian Tribes. The agencies consulted with Tribes that attach historic and cultural significance to resources within the parks. The plans include measures that are protective of Tribal use of the parks.
The final air tour management plan for Arches National Park is available at this site. The final air tour management plan for Canyonlands National Park is available at this site. And, the final air tour management plan for Natural Bridges National Monument is available at this site. Please visit this NPS site and this FAA site for more detailed information about air tour management plans.
Last updated: October 21, 2022