National Park Service

Public Input Sought on Federal Plan to Regulate Air Tours Over Bay Area's National Parks

Under the new plan, only a certain amount of tours would be allowed over parks such as Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument and others

National Park Service via Bay City News

Point Reyes and Drakes Bay from Sky Campground with forested ridges in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the distance on January 3, 2012 in Marin County, Calif. (National Park Service (NPS) via Bay City News)

Officials with both the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday announced they're asking for the public's feedback on a plan to manage air tours over the Bay Area's national parks.

The Air Tour Management Plan would place set regulations for low-flying air tours over national parks throughout the nation.

Under the local plan, 2,548 air tours per year would be allowed over places like Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore. In addition, the plan would prohibit helicopter tours over Point Reyes National Seashore and also ban all commercial air tours over Muir Woods, FAA and NPS officials said.

Residents can comment feedback on the plan at the project's website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/bayareaatmp. In addition, residents can attend a virtual public meeting on the matter later this month, on Oct. 26 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVlOC2ovidA.

"We encourage anyone who is interested in air tours over the parks to share their thoughts on the proposed plan," National Park Service Communications Director Charles Strickfaden said in a statement. "The draft plan is based on current operations and reported air tour levels at the four Bay Area federal parks. 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."

The plan is scheduled to be finished with the plan by Aug. 2022, in accordance with a 2020 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in a lawsuit brought on by environmental groups that alleged the FAA and NPS failed to implement air tour management plans for national parks in Hawaii.

As part of the ruling, the FAA and NPS must produce a plan to bring 24 national parks in compliance with the Air Tour Management Act of 2000, which requires that vendors of commercial air tours that fly over national parks and tribal lands must obtain a permit from the FAA.

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