Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) said today he was pleased he was able to include in the new highway bill a provision giving more power to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to control commercial air tours, calling the measure "a big help in maintaining the peace of the Smokies."
Under the law, the National Park Service now has the power to deny an application to begin or expand air tour operations over the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if it feels the flights would "adversely affect park resources or visitor experiences."
The provision was placed in the final version of the recently-passed highway bill, which funds the nation's roads and sets transportation policy for the next 27 months. Duncan, who serves as Chairman of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, worked with Sen. Lamar Alexander to ensure the new flight rule would be included in the bill.
"I appreciate the support and encouragement from Senator Alexander in this effort and am happy to support this change," Duncan said. "It gives the park control over its air space and ensures the Smokies remain pleasant for everyone."
Congressman Duncan also joined with Sen. Alexander in 2004 to stop construction of cell phone towers in the Smokies.
"I am privileged to work with Sen. Alexander once again in defense of the Nation's most-visited national park," Duncan said.
"We are blessed beyond belief to live in East Tennessee with these beautiful mountains at our doorstep, and we must do everything we can to protect them for our residents and visitors," Duncan continued.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws more than 9 million visitors each year.