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NATURAL QUIET OF GRAND CANYON SHATTERED BY AIRCRAFT; PARK WATCHDOG GROUP CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

 LAS VEGAS, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) today called for rigorous controls of air tours over national parks, including a limit on the number of flights, mandatory quiet aircraft technology and increases in the size of flight-free corridors. The recommendations came today in Las Vegas as the National Park Service (NPS) released results of congressionally mandated research on the impact of aircraft overflights on Grand Canyon National Park.
 "The natural quiet of one of the greatest cathedrals on earth is being shattered daily, and the problem will worsen as Grand Canyon air- tour operations continue to expand at a rapid pace," said David J. Simon, Southwest regional director of NPCA, the nation's largest park watchdog group. "It is time for the Federal Aviation Administration to come down out of the clouds and do something meaningful to address this problem.
 The number of air tours over the Grand Canyon has doubled in the past six years to more than 1,400 flights a day by more than 40 authorized tour operators carrying more than 750,000 passengers a year. The number of air tours is projected to double again by 2000. Simon called aircraft overflights "one of the most pervasive and troublesome problems for the National Park System," affecting an estimated 100 parks.
 The NPS research included detailed sound monitoring, acoustic studies and sociological studies to gauge attitudes by park visitors. The research results were conclusive: Even the "flight-free" zones established in the park are not "noise-free," and many park visitors are extremely bothered by aircraft noise. The research results were discussed at an NPS-sponsored meeting attended by conservationists, air- tour industry representatives, Federal Aviation Administration officials and other interested members of the public.
 In 1987, Congress passed a law requiring the preparation of an aircraft management plan for Grand Canyon National Park and completion of a study of problems associated with aircraft overflights over all national parks and Forest Service wilderness areas. The Grand Canyon plan ultimately set up some "flight-free" corridors over the park to guide aircraft routes and put a ban on flights below the canyon rim. Compliance with the plan by commercial pilots has been very high (estimated at 96 percent).
 The National Parks and Conservation Association is America's only private, non-profit citizen organization dedicated solely to protecting and preserving the U.S. National Park System. Founded in 1919, and this year celebrating its 75th anniversary as an association of "Citizens Protecting America's Parks," NPCA has more than 350,000 members.
 -0- 9/16/93
 /CONTACT: Kathy Westra of the National Parks and Conservation Association, 202-223-6722, ext. 121/


CO: National Parks and Conservation Association ST: Arizona, District of Columbia IN: ENV SU:

DT-DC -- DC022 -- 2812 09/16/93 16:18 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 16, 1993
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