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"Good neighbors keep their noise to themselves."  

You have an Opportunity to Increase the Natural Quiet in National Parks

S. 268, the National Parks Overflights Act sponsored by Senator John McCain, was heard in the Senate Commerce Committee July 31. This legislation is critical to restoring natural quiet destroyed by aviation noise over Grand Canyon National Park as well as other national parks. The bill needs to be strengthened and it needs our support.

What You Can Do! 

Senate Commerce Committee
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

Suggested talking points that you may want include

Please put these in you own words, but feel free to copy, paste, and rewrite any of the following. The specific recommendations here are those of Tom Robinson, Director of Conservation Policy for the Grand Canyon Trust. The Grand Canyon Trust is a leader in the efforts to protect the natural quiet of the Grand Canyon and other national parks. Click here to view their full testimony.

1. First, S. 268 should address all units of the National Park System where natural quiet has been identified as a significant resource of the National Park Service. There are several land management designations administered by the Park Service, including national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, and national seashores, among others. The Park Service must be able to protect natural quiet in these areas as well. Some of them may some day become national parks, such as happened at Grand Canyon. If natural quiet has not been protected pro actively in such units, it may not be recoverable later.

2. Second, in addressing natural quiet as a "part of the park’s natural resources and experience," S. 268 should state explicitly that the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, has the sole authority to determine whether natural quiet is part of the park’s natural resources and experience, and the responsibility to protect and preserve that natural quiet in the parks. As noted above, this addition would properly recognize the National Park Service’s expertise in the resource management arena.

3. Third, S. 268 requires the Secretary of the Interior to report to Congress on the success of the plan in protecting natural quiet and any recommended revisions needed to accomplish the goals of the act. The bill should require the FAA to implement, without change except for safety reasons, any plan revisions the Secretary deems necessary to accomplish the goals of the act to preserve and protect natural quiet. That is, the bill should state explicitly that Congress intends these measures to succeed, not merely that the agencies need act but once for any given park, regardless of whether that single action accomplishes the mandated goal. We have learned this lesson the hard way at Grand Canyon, where the Park Service has determined that the 1988 Aircraft Management Plan has not restored the natural quiet of the park, yet the FAA maintains it has done all it is required to do under the Overflights Act of 1987.

4. Lastly, two other additions would strengthen S.268. They are: (1) providing for the designation by the Park Service of "Flight-Free Parks" in units of the Park System that are without tour overflights and where natural quiet must be protected; and (2) requiring data collection to enhance management of tour flights, including operators’ reporting the number of tour flights they fly, the routes and durations of their flights over park units, and accident rates, as well as investigating the feasibility of requiring automatic flight tracking systems on tour flights to provide altitude and ground location information.


Senator McCain helped write the original National Park Overflights Act of 1987. It has proved insufficient in the fight against noise in the Grand Canyon, however, as the number of flights has grown significantly since then. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and to a lesser extent the National Park Service(NPS) have allowed the problem to worsen since 1987. One important aspect of S. 268 is that it shifts the balance of power to the NPS and allows the FAA to change park service plans for safety reasons only, and not for economic, industry-promoting reasons.

For more information on noise in the Grand Canyon, see

Senate Bill 268

The Testimony of the Grand Canyon Trust to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Noise in our National Parks and more specifically Report to Congress: Report on Effects of Aircraft Overflights on the National Park System (1994). This is a quite lengthy report that details a wide range of costs and benefits of overflights. Included in the report are effects overflights have on natural quiet as a natural resource, cultural and historic resources, wildlife, visitor enjoyment and safety. Values associated with tourist overflights are also taken into account. The report used information from surveys given to park managers and visitors to the park on the ground and in the air. The report gives recommendations to reduce the impact of overflights on National Parks.



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