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Memorandum on Transportation Planning to Address Impacts of Transportation on National Parks

April 22, 1996

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Additional Transportation Planning to Address Impacts of Transportation on National Parks

Transportation in national parks—including ground transportation of visitors into the parks and airplane flights over the parks—has a significant impact on a visitor's experience of the park and on park management. The Secretary of Transportation has both valuable expertise and regulatory authority to address certain of these issues, and has been working on them with the Secretary of the Interior and others.

Aircraft flying at low altitudes over national parks can, if not properly managed, mar the natural beauty of the parks and create significant noise problems as well. The intrusion of such aircraft can interfere with wildlife (including threatened and endangered species), cultural resources and ceremonies, and visitors' enjoyment of parks, including the ability to experience natural sounds without interruption from mechanical noise. Several parks face overflight problems, including Grand Canyon National Park where substantial restoration of natural quiet is mandated by law, and several others identified by the National Park Service (NPS). It is important to the future of parks to address these problems quickly and in a fair and reasonable manner.

In addition, the National Park System contains thousands of miles of roads. All too often in peak visitor periods roads are so crowded with cars that the congestion and competition for space diminish the quality of the public's experience. Parks are not too full of people, but the roads and parking areas often are jammed. With modern technology and alternative transportation systems, the parks can continue to be accessible to all, and can be more enjoyable places to experience and learn about nature and history.

Therefore, to the extent permitted by law, I hereby direct the Secretary of Transportation in consultation with the heads of relevant departments and agencies to continue the ongoing development of rules as set out below to address overflights of the National Parks:

1. For Grand Canyon National Park,

(a) issue proposed regulations within 90 days to place appropriate limits on sightseeing aircraft over the Grand Canyon National Park to reduce the noise immediately and make further substantial progress toward restoration of natural quiet, as defined by the

Secretary of the Interior, while maintaining aviation safety in accordance with the Overflights Act (Public Law 100-91). Action on this rulemaking to accomplish these purposes should be completed by the end of 1996; and

(b) should any final rulemaking determine that issuance of a further management plan is necessary to substantially restore natural quiet in the Grand Canyon National Park, complete within 5 years a plan that addresses how the Federal Aviation Administration and

NPS will complete the "substantial restoration and maintenance of natural quiet," as defined by the Secretary of the Interior in accordance with the Overflights Act. Any such plan shall ensure that the restoration of natural quiet required by the Overflights

Act shall be completed in the park not more than 12 years from the date of issuance of this directive as recommended in NPS's 1994

"Report on Effects of Aircraft Overflights on the National Park System."

2. For Rocky Mountain National Park, complete and issue, if appropriate, within 90 days, a notice of proposed rulemaking to address the potential adverse impact on the park and its visitors of overflights by sightseeing aircraft, keeping in mind the value of natural quiet and the natural experience in the park, as well as protection of public health and safety.

3. Issue by the end of 1996 a notice of proposed rulemaking for the management of sightseeing aircraft in those National Parks where it is deemed necessary to reduce or prevent the adverse effects of such aircraft. The regulation should, at a minimum, establish a framework for managing air traffic over those park units identified in the 1994 NPS study, as priorities for (1) resolution of airspace issues and (2) maintaining or restoring natural quiet.

4. Develop appropriate educational and other materials for the public at large and all aviation interests that describe the importance of natural quiet to park visitors and the need for cooperation from the aviation community. This guidance shall also recognize that, in some parks, air tours provide important access to approved areas in those parks, especially with regard to the disabled communities.

In addition, with respect to ground transportation in the parks, the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, is directed as follows:

To develop a plan for a comprehensive effort to improve public transportation in the national parks. This plan should include:

1. design of pilot programs for improved public transportation in the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Yosemite National Parks;

2. plans to work with relevant State, local, and tribal governments on this effort;

3. options to increase access to the parks by rebuilding infrastructure in the parks; and

4. recommendations to enhance resource protection and the quality of visitor experience through innovative transportation planning including, where possible and appropriate, the use of alternative fuel vehicles.

This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

William J. Clinton

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., April 24, 1996]

William J. Clinton, Memorandum on Transportation Planning to Address Impacts of Transportation on National Parks Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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