Overflights - Quarterly Focus

Quarterly Focus, May 2009

Since we are currently involved in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to restore natural quiet to the Park, this article will focus on the EIS process.

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 is our basic national charter for protection of the environment. It requires federal agencies to use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach to analyzing the effects of a proposed action. By preparing an EIS that includes the environmental impact of the action, any adverse effects that cannot be avoided, and alternatives to the proposed action, the NPS and FAA provide information to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and actions are taken.

The FAA and the NPS are joint-lead agencies for this EIS, and have hired a contractor to facilitate conducting analysis and writing the document. Both agencies policies are being utilized in developing this EIS. The two agencies are jointly participating in the development and review of the EIS by providing guidance and oversight on all products and aspects of the NEPA process. The FAA will provide Section 4(f) determinations and will prepare a safety analysis of the routes. The NPS will select the preferred alternative for the EIS, but both agencies will approve the joint record of decision. The FAA will implement the NPS decision on the preferred alternative through aviation rulemaking.

Public scoping in February 2006 provided information to the agencies on various tools to use to substantially restore natural quiet to the Park while maintaining a viable air tour industry. We are also working with the NPOAG Grand Canyon Working Group, a group consisting of representatives from stakeholders such as the air tour industry, tribes, environmental groups, and visitor interest groups, to ensure that the public document has the support of the stakeholders and to reduce the potential for litigation of the outcome.

The agencies used information from the Grand Canyon Working Group and from public scoping to develop a range of alternatives:

 

Alternative A

No Action - Continue Current Management

Alternative B

Unimplemented 2000 Environmental Assessment (with safety concerns addressed)

Alternative C

Consolidated use over developed areas

Alternative D

Modified NPS 1995 Report to Congress Recommendations

Alternative E

Alternating Seasonal Use of the Dragon and Zuni Corridors

Alternative F

Modified Current Condition from the NPOAG Grand Canyon Working Group

Alternative G

NPS Potential Preferred



 

The alternatives incorporate a range of reasonable changes to the current airspace regulations (Grand Canyon National Park Special Flight Rules Area) in the form of altered flight free zones, different altitudes and locations of air tour routes, quiet aircraft technology incentives, curfews, caps, and more.

Tentative Schedule

 

Public Scoping

February 2006

Develop range of alternatives

Summer 2006 through Winter 2008

Analyze impacts from each alternative

Fall 2008 through Spring 2009

Draft EIS, public comment

January 2010

Consider substantive comments

Spring 2010

Final EIS

Fall 2010

 

We encourage your participation in the EIS process and look forward to your input during the Draft EIS public comment period.



Previous Articles

Winter 2005 – Dual Noise Standard Zones (127kb PDF File)

Spring 2005 - Natural Ambient (41.2kb PDF File)

Winter 2004 - Air Tour Allocations for the Hualapai Native American Indian Tribe within Grand Canyon National Park Special Flight Rules Area (54kb PDF File)

Fall 2004 - Glossary of Acoustic Terms (97kb PDF File)

Summer 2004 - Management Objectives for Grand Canyon National Park - 1995 Report to Congress (60kb PDF File)

Fall 2003 - Aircraft on Tribal Lands Adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park (94kb PDF File)

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

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