HOMESTEAD, Fla. --- Commercial air tour operators Miami Seaplane Tours and Wings are taking their flights to a new level in Biscayne National Park. Air tour management agreements were recently signed that will protect park resources and visitors. The agreements are the result of a collaborative process among the National Park Service (NPS), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and operators.
"Biscayne is a sanctuary of reefs, turquoise waters, endangered wildlife, mangrove forests, historic landmarks and emerald islands for visitors to explore and enjoy," said Acting Superintendent Bob DeGross. "We appreciate the assistance from the FAA, the NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division and the commercial operators, in fashioning these agreements and ensuring that these amazing park resources are protected for future generations."
The park agreements establish conditions for conducting air tours including routes, altitudes, number of flights, type of aircraft, hours of operations and reporting requirements. The conditions are based on protecting a range of sensitive park locations and resources including nesting birds, cultural-historic landmarks and visitor camping and recreational sites. By following the agreements, air tour operators will ensure the safety of tour passengers, protection of park resources and visitor enjoyment of the park from the air as well as the land and sea.
Air tours over national parks offer dramatic aerial views of water and land features that are uniquely different from ground or sea experiences. Nationwide, commercial air tour companies conduct nearly 300,000 tours over national parks annually. The cumulative impact of this many flights on park resources and visitors is potentially great. The tours can be noisy for visitors and wildlife below. The tours are therefore managed to protect park resources and visitor use without compromising aviation safety or the nation's air traffic control system.
Florida national parks are leading the way for other parks in the national park system to work with air tour operators to comply with changes to law covering air tours over national parks. Together, parks and air tour operators can make resource preservation a top priority under the National Parks Air Tour Management of 2000. Biscayne is the second national park to implement this new type of air tour management agreement following Big Cypress in January.
For more information about air tour management in national parks, including copies of the Biscayne agreements, visit the NPS Natural Sounds and Night Skies website at nps.gov/subjects/sound/airtours.htm. For more information about Biscayne National Park visit nps.gov/bisc or follow the park on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at "biscaynenps."
View the original press release on the Biscayne National Park website.