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On the Right Tack


Location: Unknown

In a recent article, "Gosar, Franks on wrong tack," an editorial writer poised the question to her readers: If you think the sweetest sound at the Grand Canyon is the buzz of aircraft motor, not nature, then Arizona Congressmen Paul Gosar and Trent Franks are on your side.

In reality, if you think the sweetest thing about government agencies is their ability to kill family businesses while spending even more tax payers' dollars, then quite possibly this article might be what was sitting next to your coffee the morning of July 29th.

The attack here isn't on the Grand Canyon, it's on the US Air Tour Industry that has been providing the elderly, physically limited and time constrained international visitors, the eagle eye view of the Grand Canyon since the late 1930's.

For the last 17 years the Air Tour industry has met the National Park Service (NPS) standard for "substantial restoration of natural quiet" as defined by the National Park Service by restoring quiet to 50% of the park 75% of the time. This fact was scientifically validated in 2008 by the Volpe Institute in their report to the NPS and the FAA. Though now, NPS is proposing to change the threshold from 50 to 67% by imposing broad new flight restrictions on all air tours from Northern Arizona and Southern Nevada. This will result in significant economic harm on the air tour operators as well as significant job losses impacting over 1,200 employees.

Over the last decade, the National Park Service record will confirm that there have been virtually no visitor written objections to the noise impact of the air tours from the millions of visitors that visit the popular National Park destination.

Air tour operators are prepared to work with the NPS to undertake additional and reasonable measures to improve the soundscape at Grand Canyon still but not at the expense of families' livelihoods. The industry has already accepted caps on the number of flights, curfews to protect visitor experience after sunrise and before sunset, the elimination of many air tour routes, minimum flight altitudes, and flight free zones that protect about 87 percent of the park.

All in all, this preferred alternative is nothing more than a blatant attempt by a government agency to change the rules of the game after their conditions have already been met. I cannot support regulations that terminate American jobs, nor can I allow more tax payer dollars to be siphoned where they need not be.

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