National Parks and Air Traffic

3082 Words13 Pages
National Parks and Air Traffic

I. Introduction

Grand Canyon National Parks attracted 4.5 million visitors in 1999. Of these 4.5 million visitors, about 40% were not Americans - Germans, French, and Japanese led the way. Grand Canyon National Park brings in millions of tourist dollars per year to the region. One of the most popular ways to see the Canyon besides simply driving to the South Rim and spending the day is by airplane or helicopter. About 800,000 people per year fly over the Canyon. In the peak summer periods, there are over 1,000 flights every day. 31 air companies operating out of five states (Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and Colorado) operate tours over the Grand Canyon. In 1995, the total air tour revenue was approximately $115.9 million. An average 30-minute helicopter flights costs $100 per person. The air tour companies argue that they provide a needed service to older and handicap people and children, who would otherwise be unable to experience the Canyon. They also say that their use of the Canyon is environmentally-friendly by not contributing to the air pollution, road congestion, vehicle traffic, garbage and crowded vistas that are common every day during the peak summer periods on the South Rim. Opponents to overflights state that the noise intrusion from the constant buzz of air traffic is intolerable for those hikers, campers, and visitors on the ground, trying to enjoy the natural quiet of the Canyon. They also state that because of the sheer volume of air traffic, this form of sight-seeing has become unacceptably dangerous, citing numerous fatal air accidents.

II. Background

Shortly after airplanes began flying, air tour companies started on the South Rim and in Nevada in the...

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National Parks Overflights Act of 1987 § 100, 16 U.S.C. § 1a-1 (1987).

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S. 268, The National parks Overflights Act of 1997, 1997: Hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 105th Congress, 1st Session (1997).

"U.S. Government Announces Limits on Flights Over Grand Canyon." Arizona Republic 29 March 2000.
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