US Senate Bill WILL Increase Grand Canyon Overflights and Noise - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 03-18-2010   #1
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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US Senate Bill WILL Increase Grand Canyon Overflights and Noise

The results of a stake holder-based process to determine how overflights and accompanying noise should be managed in the Grand Canyon may be rendered irrelevant by an amendment to a Senate financial bill being proposed by Sen. McCain of AZ. Preliminary analysis is mixed and is being further evaluated by the private boating community's representative to the NPS Overflights Workgroup. Please follow this thread for analysis of whether the legislation will degrade or help restore more wilderness character to the Grand Canyon. And, of course, feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts, stories, wild arm waving, anecdotes, analysis, speculation, blather and banter.

From the GCPBA email list:

Quote:
-----Original Message-----
From: GCPBA On Behalf Of Richard Martin
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 11:36 AM
To: GCPBA email list
Subject: [gcpba] GCPBA RiverNewsNotes - McCain Seeks Status QuoOn GC Overflight Noise

GCPBA RiverNewsNotes - McCain Seeks Status Quo On GC Overflight Noise

An amendment introduced today by Senator John McCain threatens to undo much of the progress that has been made on this issue, while locking out the public and the Park Service from improving protection for our premier national park. Please read the information below courtesy of the Sierra Club, and contact your representatives with your opinion on this issue today!

The McCain amendment would stop progress on resolving aircraft noise at the Grand Canyon by legislating existing conditions and preventing the National Park Service from trying to improve protections for natural quiet at our premier national park.

The amendment defines "substantial restoration of natural quiet", required at Grand Canyon by the National Parks Overflight Act of 1987, to 50 % of the park for 75% of the time. This weak definition is one the NPS was trying to improve upon with their environmental analysis which they expect to bring to the public later this year. The current 50/75 goal means that half of the Grand Canyon can be an unmitigated noise sacrifice zone, while the "protected" part still allows aircraft noise to be heard up to once every 4 minutes – we should do better than that at the Grand Canyon.

One of the top NPS priorities was restoring natural quiet to the wild Marble Canyon arm of the river and park, but this amendment allows flights to occur all day and prevents the NPS from doing anything about it.

Yes, it's taken a long time for the NPS and FAA to finally get together around a common planning process, but now they are nearing the end of a lengthy, thorough and expensive analysis of alternative ways to improve the natural experience at the Grand Canyon. The NPS EIS is to be issued later this year, and the public will be given an opportunity to comment and get involved in the final choices. But if the McCain amendment passes, then the public will not have any voice and no changes can be made in the future.

The McCain amendment is a direct attack on Grand Canyon National Park on behalf of the commercial air tour industry. It takes the Park Service out of managing a vital piece of the visitor experience at our flagship national park – the natural quiet of this world class treasure, naturally one of the quietest places on earth.

GCPBA former President Dave Yeamans has been an active member representing the private boating community in the NPS Overflights Workgroup attempting to find resolution to the overflights noise issue.

Source: Sierra Club, GCRG, GCPBA

GCPBA Newswire and GCPBA RiverNewsNotes are a service of Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association. Support GCPBA - visit Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association

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Old 03-18-2010   #2
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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RRFW Riverwire – Your Surface to Air Call to Congress Needed Right Now!

RRFW Riverwire – Your Surface to Air Call to Congress Needed Right Now!
March 18, 2010

On Tuesday, March 16, 2010, U.S. Senator John McCain introduced an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill.

McCain’s amendment #3528 to the FAA bill is a giveaway to the air tour industry and will lead to further deterioration of natural quiet in Grand Canyon National Park.

This amendment, co-sponsored by Arizona’s Jon Kyl and Nevada’s Harry Reid, will be voted on sometime Friday March 19, 2010.

If you care about Natural Quiet in Grand Canyon, make a quick Surface to Air call to your Senator’s Washington DC office right now and ask to speak to a real person who covers National Park issues.

Tell the staffer to urge your Senator to vote NO right now on the McCain amendment #3528 to the FAA Reauthorization bill.

Tell them how important natural quiet at Grand Canyon is to you and future generations.

Don’t know the phone number for your Senator? Click here: Contacting the Congress

The details:

Congress mandated in the National Parks Overflights Act of 1989, that the National Parks Service (NPS) and the FAA jointly develop an air tour management plan which would substantially restore natural quiet to the Grand Canyon.

Today, the NPS and FAA are working to finally implement that mandate and to achieve a restoration of natural quiet in the crown jewel of America's National Park System.

A range of alternatives, a preferred action, full environmental analysis and public meetings are scheduled for later this year, after which the agencies will finalize air space regulations.

Unfortunately, Sen. McCain's amendment would undermine that process and gut the intent of the 1989 Park Overflights Act. The McCain amendment would:

# Change the playing field. As directed by the Overflights Act, NPS and FAA are required to achieve substantial restoration of natural quiet within at least 50% of the park for at least 75% of the time. The McCain amendment gets rid of the ‘at least’ language and says half the park can be loud all the time. This action would remove any discretion the NPS has to manage the air tour noise impacts in Grand Canyon toward a quieter park.

# Increase air tour noise in Grand Canyon. The amendment relaxes existing air tour curfews and permanently codifies existing air tour routes, including all day flights over Marble Canyon – this is the one place NPS has said they wanted to restore natural quiet as a top priority.

# Removes commercial and general aviation flights, along with tourist transport flights and all flights around the Grand Canyon Skywalk including helicopter flights down to the Colorado River itself, from being included in the definition of natural quiet, where presently at least 50% of the park for at least 75% of the time has to be naturally quiet when counting ALL aircraft noise.

Bottom line: this amendment effectively removes the NPS from any further influence or future management changes over aircraft noise at Grand Canyon National Park.

This amendment guts the 1989 Park Overflights Act as well as the 2000 National Parks Air Tour Management Act as it relates to Grand Canyon.
This amendment legislates existing conditions into law and removes the NPS from having any continuing role in this impact to the park.

Make that call right now!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
RIVERWIRE is a free service to the community of river lovers from River Runners for Wilderness. To join, send an e-mail address to [email protected] and we'll add it to the RRFW RIVERWIRE e-mail alerts list.
Join RRFW's listserver to stay abreast of and participate in the latest river issues. It's as easy as sending a blank e-mail to [email protected].
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ADMIN NOTE: POST MERGED INTO RELEVANT THREAD.
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Old 03-18-2010   #3
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Preliminary Analysis of the US Senate Bill

Follow up: Preliminary analysis of the McCain's amendment is provided below in the quoted GCPBA list email . Former GCPBA President Dave Yeamans has been an active member representing the private boating community in the NPS Overflights Workgroup attempting to resolve the overflights noise issue for the last two years. Yeamans is digging into the details right now. Currently it looks like the legislation is a mixed bag in terms of cuts and expansions. It generally cuts autumn evening and winter flight times while expanding morning operation times in the spring and early October. The first half of April would see an extra hour of flights in both the morning and evening. Stay tuned as the analysis evolves. -AH

Quote:
-----Original Message-----
From: GCPBA On Behalf Of David Yeamans
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2010 6:47 PM
To: GCPBA List
Subject: [gcpba] SA 3528 Proposed flight curfew changes

Proposed curfew changes as compared with today's rules:

1) Restrictions on evening flying times.
Expands evening flight time 1 hour for April 1 to April 15.
Cuts back evening flight time 30 minutes for September 1 to September 30.
Cuts back evening flight time 30 minutes for October 1 to October 31.
Cuts back evening flight time 1 hour for November 1 to April 1.

This proposed change is almost what I suggested early on (9-11-07). It keeps flights away from sunset by about an hour -- even more than that in high summer. It's more of a respite than before from noise at the prime evening relaxing time for hikers and boaters.

2) Restrictions on morning flying times.
Expands morning flight time 1 hour for March 16 to May 1.
Expands morning flight time 1 hour for October 1 to October 15*.

This proposed change is close to what I proposed as well. Your mornings would be somewhat more impacted but the flight times are still over an hour away from sunrise.

NOTE: unbeknownst to a great portion of the working group at the time in 2007, and exploited by an air tour operator in Marble Canyon, the curfews only apply today to the Dragon and Zuni corridors. SA 3528 ought to expand that curfew to the entire canyon.
dy

Dave Yeamans

*may need revision due to typo in original text.
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Old 03-19-2010   #4
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Hi Andy, I serve as an alternate on the FAA-NPS Grand Canyon Working Group for this issue, representing the hiking community.

The working group has come up with a plan, in NEPA, that will help start making the Canyon quieter.

This ammendment by McCain and Reid will make the present routes like the one over the Lava Falls-202 mile area stay in place, while the NPS was heading to re-route that route out of the Park.

This ammendment removes the Hualapai Helicopters from noise impact in the west end of the Park.

This ammendment plays with the curfews, but it's a wash, and worst of all, this ammendment removes air transportation flight to and from Vegas to the Sout Rim, and from the South Rim to Page, from being counted in the noise mix.

We have today, this morning, to make calls to our senators. Leave a message, tell them you urge your Senator to vote no on McCains loud Grand Canyon ammendment # 3528.

Do it for your kids who will be boaters in the future of Grand Canyon!

Tom Martin
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Old 03-19-2010   #5
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Yeamans Analysis Complete, Call Your Senators Now

Tom - thanks for continuing to get the message out while I was unavailable to get this posted.

All - please contact your Senators. Hopefully its not too late to weigh in on this issue.

CO Sen. Bennett: (303) 455-7600, DC Office: 202-224-5852

CO Sen. Udall: (303) 650-7820, DC Office: 202-224-5941

Further analysis below:

Quote:
-----Original Message-----
From: GCPBA List On Behalf Of David Yeamans
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 12:35 PM
To: GCPBA List
Subject: Re: [gcpba] Your Surface to Air Call to Congress Needed Right Now!

Urgent Action Required. Do it now.

While there are a few factual errors in the RRFW Riverwire, it's close enough. Make the call. Oppose SA 3520

[unnecessary text removed - AH]

In fact, it's worse than the RRFW Wire says. The bill would have us count current flights as only half a flight or 3/4 of a flight until allocations can be established. Wow! we haven't seen that sort of endowment for commercial operators since the 1980 Hatch amendment that canonized motors and commercial dominance for 25 years.

The bill is a slap in the face to the GC working group of the National Parks Overflights Advisory Group. According to McCain's original legislation we were supposed to be the one group that guided the NPS and FAA decisions. Now he's trying to say he didn't really mean it after all and he wants the air tour industry to be the sole advisors.

Make that call.

Dave Yeamans
GCPBA board of directors,
Member of GC Working Group of NPOAG
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Old 03-19-2010   #6
 
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thank you both, for the fine work you do. muchas grasias
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Old 03-23-2010   #7
 
Andy H.'s Avatar
 
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McCain Amendment Dropped - Victory for Boaters

Here's a post from Brady Black of Moenkoepi just made to the GCPBA list this am. McCain wasn't able to get enough support keep the amendment in the financial legislation.

Thanks to everyone that called their senators.

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of brady black
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 9:37 AM
To:GCPBA List
Subject: RE: [gcpba] Calling your Representatives (was "Surface to Air...") DROPPED

U.S. Sens. John McCain and Harry Reid said on Monday they would drop an amendment to change the rules governing tourism flights over the Grand Canyon.

"Sen. McCain was hoping for a broad, bipartisan agreement on this amendment, and unfortunately the support was just not there, so we withdrew," said McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan.

The amendment sought to redefine air tourism over the canyon, and it was opposed by the local Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust as less noise-reducing than other proposals the National Park Service is now considering.

McCain helped pass legislation in 1987 calling for the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Park Service to bring "natural quiet" to the Grand Canyon, beginning years of litigation between air tour companies, environmental groups and federal agencies.

In the years following the bill, air traffic over the canyon more than doubled.

The Park Service eventually defined a goal that half or more of the Grand Canyon should have no audible aircraft for 75 percent or more of the daytime.

McCain's more recent amendment took the "or more" clauses out of the legislation, and would have affected flights originating out of Las Vegas.

It was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign.

More recently, the Park Service ruled that noise from high-flying aircraft, such as jetliners at 18,000 feet, would not count.

Also, the Hualapai Tribe has asserted a right to fly over its land and down to the Colorado River without the same number of flight limits imposed on other air tour operators.

Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin has noted a shortfall between the number of flights air tour companies report and pay fees on to the Park Service, and the number they report to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 2008, air tour operators reported flying 49,000 flights over the Grand Canyon to the Park Service, and they paid $25 per flight in fees.

But the same year, air tour operators reported 57,000 flights to the Federal Aviation Administration, Martin said.

That adds up to a discrepancy of 8,000 flights and $200,000 in fees.

Brady

-----End Original Message-----

Note: text above from AZ Sun article - AH
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Old 03-23-2010   #8
 
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon Overflights Amendment Fails

RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon Overflights Amendment Fails
March 23, 2010

Nevada Senator John Ensign yesterday withdrew an amendment on Grand Canyon National Park overflights he co-sponsored with John McCain (R, AZ), Jon Kyl (R, AZ) and Harry Reid (D, NV).

The amendment received a blistering condemnation from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D, NM) on the floor of the Senate. When it was clear the amendment would not have enough votes to pass, neither Reid nor McCain blocked the procedural removal of it.

The McCain amendment would have reversed years of work by the Park Service, FAA and the full spectrum of stakeholders who had just recently completed a draft management plan to protect natural quiet in Grand Canyon National Park. The draft is due to be released within the next few weeks.

Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid introduced a similar amendment during the last Congressional Session. Reid appeared to be sponsoring legislation on behalf of a small handful of air tour stakeholders. Senator McCain was instrumental in stopping Reid’s prior amendment, citing the ongoing Working Group public process. Reid co-sponsored McCain’s amendment for the same small stakeholder group even as the larger cooperative stakeholder work was about to be implemented.

The amendment, favoring an increase in air tours over the park, came just weeks before the National Park Service is set to announce the release of a draft environmental assessment on the overflights issue.

According to sources on Capital Hill, Senate offices across the country received a large volume of phone calls from citizens who condemned McCain’s move to bypass the public process and damage Grand Canyon National Park’s soundscape.

River Runners for Wilderness would like to thank everyone who called and asked their Senators to protect Natural Quiet at Grand Canyon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~
RIVERWIRE is a free service to the community of river lovers from River Runners for Wilderness. To join, send an e-mail address to [email protected] and we'll add it to the RRFW RIVERWIRE e-mail alerts list.

Join RRFW's listserver to stay abreast of and participate in the latest river issues. It's as easy as sending a blank e-mail to [email protected].

Check out RRFW's Rafting Grand Canyon Wiki for free information on Do-It-Yourself Grand Canyon rafting info http://www.rrfw.org/RaftingGrandCanyon/Main_Page.

Check out new items and donate at the RRFW Store! RRFW is a non-profit project of Living Rivers.
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