Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has an important mission that includes protecting and restoring park resources. In order to accomplish our mission, park staff and partners occasionally utilize aircraft to carry out the work. Helicopters are used in particular because they are an essential tool for activities such as volcanic monitoring of eruptive activity and hazards, controlling invasive species, suppressing wildland fires, and search and rescue operations in the backcountry.
The underlying purpose of all of these activities is to provide for public safety and health and for resource protection and restoration. Use of aircraft allows park staff and cooperators to accomplish these activities in a safe, timely, and efficient manner while minimizing the impacts to the park's natural and cultural resources and the visitor experience.
The park is developing a plan (Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan) and accompanying Environmental Assessment (EA) to document any potential impacts of its aviation operations. The objectives of the plan are to (1) ensure the safety of park visitors and staff and the public through monitoring of volcanic hazards and safe and timely response to eruptions, wildfires and backcountry emergencies; (2) ensure the ability to effectively protect and restore natural and cultural resources; (3) minimize any impacts to park resources and values such as soundscapes and visitor experience; (4) ensure compliance with the National Park Service policies and federal regulations; and, (5) maximize efficiency of flights and minimize costs to park operations.
To this end, park staff and partners have started working on a plan that will provide internal park guidance for utilizing aircraft to conduct our work where necessary. This plan will formalize best management practices, define sensitive areas to avoid, and include mitigation measures to reduce any potential impact of the park's operational use of aviation.
PLEASE NOTE: This plan/EA will guide internal NPS aviation activities occurring within the park and those of contract aircraft doing business for the park only, not the activities of commercial air tours or general aviation aircraft. An Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP)/EIS to address commercial air tours flying over the park is being developed through a separate process and is discussed at the following link: https://www.nps.gov/havo/parkmgmt/havo_planning_atmp2011.htm
The public is invited to comment on the park's intent to develop a Mission Critical Administrative Aviation Plan/Environmental Assessment (plan/EA) for Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Your observations and suggestions are appreciated. If you would like to provide comments or suggestions for us to consider during the development this plan/EA, you may submit comments on-line at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo. You may also mail your comments to the park, Attn: Superintendent, PO Box 52, Hawaii NP, HI 96718-0052. Please send us comments by March 26, 2012.