Officials seek public comment on proposal allowing up to 515 air tours over Bryce Canyon per year

File photo of Fly-in and Car Show event at Bryce Canyon Airport, Bryce Canyon, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Bryce Canyon Country Facebook page, St. George News

BRYCE CANYON – The National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration are hosting a virtual public meeting and seeking feedback regarding a draft air tour management plan that is being proposed for Bryce Canyon National Park.

Stock image | Photo by lucky-photographer/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

According to a press release from the park service, the two agencies encourage anyone with an interest in or concern about air tours over Bryce Canyon National Park to review and comment on the draft plan, which would authorize up to 515 air tours per year on defined routes. There were on average 515 air tours per year reported at Bryce Canyon National Park from 2017 to 2019.

Public feedback can be provided through the park service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment website now through Oct. 3. The park service and FAA will consider comments to help inform the final management plan for Bryce Canyon National Park.

The park service and FAA will also be hosting a virtual public meeting regarding the draft Bryce Canyon National Park air tour management plan on Sept. 27 from 2:30-4 pm that will be livestreamed here on YouTube.

Members of the public who wish to observe the virtual meeting can also access the livestream from the following FAA social media platforms on the day of the event:

“We encourage anyone who is interested in air tours over the park to share their thoughts on the proposed plan for Bryce Canyon National Park,” said Jim Ireland, the park’s superintendent said in the press release. “The draft plan is based on current operations and reported air tour levels at Bryce Canyon National Park. Its purpose is to ensure that park resource values, including natural sounds, wilderness character, visitor experiences, wildlife and other natural and cultural resources are protected.”

Helicopter tour over Bryce Canyon, Utah, date not specified | Photo from Bryce Canyon Country website, St. George News

Bryce Canyon National Park is among 24 parks of the National Park System developing air tour management plans in cooperation with the FAA. The agencies hope to complete all air tour management plans by the end of August 2022. The schedule is part of a plan approved in 2020 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the agencies to comply with the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000.

The FAA and the National Park Service have determined that each air tour management plan constitutes a federal undertaking subject to compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800).

The two agencies are consulting with tribes, state and tribal historic preservation officers and other interested parties to identify historic properties and assess the potential effects of the management plans on them.

For more detailed information about Bryce and other air tour management plans, visit the  National Park Service air tours webpage and the FAA website. Links to meeting notifications, recordings, and slide decks (where applicable) will be posted to the National Park Service site.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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