“A silence reigns everywhere. The sun comes up over the Painted Desert through a haze of spectrum colors but there is no sound, and it goes down over the Uinkaret Mountains in all the glory of crimson and purple, but the silence is not broken. The stillness seems like that of stellar space.”
– John C Van Dyke, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, 1920
It has been 23 years since the U.S. National Parks Overflights Act (Public Law 100-91) mandated the prompt substantial restoration of the natural quiet in Grand Canyon National Park. Yet, in the years following the passage of the bill, air traffic over the canyon has more than doubled.
In order to protect and preserve the physical and social resources in Grand Canyon National Park, virtually all forms of visitation and commercial activities are carefully regulated: from river trips, to backcountry hiking, to mule rides, and even hotel rooms. Grand Canyon River Guides believes that reasonable and responsible limits should extend to ALL forms of visitation, however transient, including air tours.
GCRG’s participation in the process of reducing aircraft noise in Grand Canyon began in 1989 when we had fewer than 100 members. Since that time, we have been outspoken about the need for reducing the number of flights, eliminating routes, establishing curfews, and encouraging less noisy technology. Our overriding concern centers on the degradation of natural quiet as a profoundly important Park resource. We contend that this essential quality which is so rare in our everyday lives has essentially vanished in the heart of Grand Canyon National Park, necessitating definitive action for its restoration. You can help!
At long last, we expect the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on overflights to be available by December 2010. The DEIS will include a 90-day comment period as well as public scoping sessions in a number of cities. Possible sites include Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City with dates yet to be determined.
As information is available, we will be posting it on our website, so please check back. If you would like to be included in our guide or general member email lists, please email your request to: email@example.com.
So get informed and get involved! We will need everyone to write letters and speak up for this threatened resource in Grand Canyon.
Overflights Background Material
- Map of Overflight Area
- GCRG Official Comments on Overflights
- National Parks and Conservation Association "State of the Parks" report. Go to: http://www.npca.org/stateoftheparks/grand_canyon/ (click on the full report option and go to page 31 for Soundscape Management)
BQR Articles on Overflights
- The Sound of Silence: Historical Perspectives on Natural Quiet at Grand Canyon by Helen Fairley, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/14-4/sound.html
- The Power of Place and the Importance of Natural Quiet at Grand Canyon National Park, by Jim McCarthy, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/14-1/power.html
- Sky Wars, by Jeri Ledbetter, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/5-4/skywars.html
- Protecting Grand Canyon Quiet Affirmed by Court, Sierra Club Press Release, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/11-4/quiet.html
- Air Tours Encroach upon Refuge of Canyon, by Joel Nilsson, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/12-4/air.html
- Air Turbulence, by Jeri Ledbetter, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/8-4/air.htm
- Finding a Balance, by Jeri Ledbetter, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/7-2/balance.htm
- Overflights, Etc…, by Jeri Ledbetter, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/9-3/overflights.htm
- Look up in the Sky, by Jeri Ledbetter, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/8-1/upinthesky.htm
- Hearings, http://www.gcrg.org/bqr/11-2/hearings.html
GCRG Official Comments on Overflights