Public Notice: Clarifying the Definition Of “Substantial Restoration of Natural Quiet” at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This notice clarifies the definition used by Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) for achieving substantial restoration of natural quiet as mandated by the 1987 Overflights Act (Pub. L. 100-91) (Overflights Act). This clarification of the definition is necessary to address current acoustic conditions to comply with the intent of recommendations provided in the 1995 Report to Congress,\1\ and respond to a 2002 U.S. Court of Appeals decision. The provisions of the Special Flight Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 50-2 have not resulted in substantial restoration of natural quiet of GCNP. Given the volume of high altitude commercial jet and general aviation traffic overflying the Grand Canyon above 17,999 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) and a recent court decision, the substantial restoration goal as currently defined cannot be attained. This clarification of the restoration definition, while focusing on air tour and air tour related and general aviation aircraft that are conducting overflights of GCNP at altitudes at or below 17,999 MSL, also incorporates measures to address noise from all aircraft. The 1995 definition of substantial restoration of natural quiet is being clarified to distinguish between aircraft noise generated above and below 17,999 feet MSL. The Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) ceiling was set at 17,999 MSL to avoid additional requirements, restrictions and regulations that occur at or above 18,000 MSL.
General Management Plan Amendment, Environmental Impact Statement, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C), the National Park Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a General Management Plan (GMP) amendment for Petrified Forest National Park. The park is currently managed under a GMP that was completed in 1993. This plan describes a proposed boundary expansion for the park of approximately 93,000 acres. However, the 1993 GMP does not prescribe management for the proposed addition lands. The GMP was revised in 2004 to address specific aspects of the park's management; this GMP Revision also does not address management activities for proposed addition lands. Public Law 108-430 was passed by Congress and signed by the President in December 2004. This Act expanded Petrified Forest National Park boundaries by approximately 125,000 acres, and directed the NPS to prepare a management plan for the new park lands within three years. Planning for the new lands is the focus of this GMP amendment and associated EIS. The GMP amendment will establish the overall direction for park addition lands, setting broad management goals for the area for the next 15 to 20 years. Among the topics that will be addressed are protection of natural and cultural resources, protection of riparian resources, appropriate range of visitor uses, impacts of visitor uses, adequacy of park infrastructure, visitor access to the park additions area, education and interpretive efforts, and external pressures on the park. Management zones that were established in the current GMP will be applied to addition lands. These zones outline the kinds of resource management activities, visitor activities, and developments that would be appropriate in the addition lands. A range of reasonable alternatives for managing the park, including a no-action alternative and a preferred alternative, will be developed through the planning process and included in the EIS. The EIS will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives. As the first phase of the planning and EIS process, the National Park Service is beginning to scope the issues to be addressed in the GMP amendment. All interested persons, organizations, and agencies are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions regarding the issues or concerns the GMP amendment should address, including a suitable range of alternatives and appropriate mitigating measures, and the nature and extent of potential environmental impacts.