Plans for air tours of 2 national parks in Hawaii are disgraceful

The affected public can still appeal to their public officials, and should.

The draft air tour management plans for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and also Haleakala National Park is a farce that should not be licensed in any form.

The air travel industry has gone mad for years, disturbing not only these parks but nearby communities and habitats for native species. Continuing such a nuisance in any supposedly lessened form is much the same thing, and none of it should be tolerated or allowed.

But the draft regulation appears to be proposing rules that effectively and permanently legitimize tour operations in Hawaii’s national parks.

The continued hearing impairment at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is inexcusable as the park is a special place that should not experience such impairment for commercial purposes. The fact that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park currently announces and apologizes for any mission flights into the park is its own admission of the intrusion these few such flights provide on the park’s public and natural resources. Similarly, the park restricts drones in recognition of their negative qualities.

For national parks to have to accept commercial intrusions as proposed in these draft rules is a travesty against the nature and purpose of parks and the natural and cultural sensitivities they contain.

Decades ago, before commercial air sightseeing flights occurred, the park could have been true to its mission to protect the park’s assets for their intrinsic values. This must be re-established and carried forward. Any amount of this industrial air swirling in and near Hawaii’s national parks on any level has been the bane of those values ​​and it has to stop now.

A sunset seen from Haleakala on Maui. The draft plans for the park threaten to further disrupt the national park. (Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat/2022)

Currently, the air travel industry’s overflights create an intolerable intrusion into the environment, natural values, and cultural practices of these parks. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park the level of disturbance has been particularly severe and increasing over the past 5-10 years, especially in the Kilauea peak region where most of the visitor concentration is located. Likewise, many native birdlife and cultural activities are also concentrated here.

The Air Tour Management Plan FAQ Sheet Notes for Draft Air Tour Management Plans notes that from 2017 to 2019, the average number of flights over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was 11,376 per year , which is 31 flights a day, 365 days a year and is a practical indication of what the industry would like.

The draft plan discusses possible mitigations, such as adjustments to flight times and encouraging the use of silent tech helicopters (think 20-vs. 12-gauge shotgun explosions).

Sanctity of the park at risk

While the proposed draft is a vast improvement and reflects the local park administration’s desire to protect the park, it is unlikely to reflect the wishes of the air tour industry, nor does it reflect the location of Kilaueas’ volcanic activity in recent years. .

The final plan could be very different. The Haleakala National Parks plan has similar intents, just with more intense flying conditions and just as vulnerable to changes.

Additionally, the last paragraph of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park plan is a right of appeal granted to any party with a substantial interest in the plan to file an appeal petition in a United States appellate court.

Haleakala National Park has a similar appeal paragraph. This could undo all the careful planning.
Clearly, the only sure way to protect the parks is to have no overflights in the parks.

In addition to the sacredness of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s airspace, proponents of this rule must consider the park’s neighbors, as they also share the consequences of these intrusions. The wasp-waisted shape of Kilauea Park’s summit area borders brings it very close to residential lands and other private and state lands, and all are under hearing attack.

Human neighbors have been subject to the same intrusions into their quiet park lives, as the sounds of flight reach far and early in the morning, especially during periodic eruptive episodes at or near the summit.

More importantly, native organisms, especially birdlife, are under the same aural assault and are equally traumatized by the cacophony. This noise adversely affects bird life as well as human life. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and surrounding areas are home to both common and rare birdlife, and these noise intrusions disturb their lives.

A conservation facility that breeds Hawaii’s rarest birds sits on private land just a mile and a half from the rim of the Kilaueas caldera. Here, tour flight noise near the summit is loud in the facility’s outdoor aviaries, and flights over the facility are common. Closer still, endangered Nene geese breed and forage in the summit area, park and adjacent grounds.

For the FAA and the National Park Service to authorize any flying under these proposed rules is a travesty of both human and natural animal life in the vicinity. It is definitely a repulsive and impolite act.

Native organisms suffer the same auditory assault and are equally traumatized by the cacophony.

Experience has shown that the number of flights will be concentrated during periods and places of eruptive activity and will be just as worrying as it is now, even with far fewer annual flights.

The current disturbance to neighbors extends several miles outside the park boundaries, especially near the summit where much of the industrial air tour activity is centered, much farther than the proposed half-mile buffer.

Both the FAA and NPS would have to drop these proposed rules and start fresh with rules that will protect the cultural and natural resources of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Parks and those of its neighbors.

All commercial tourist flights should be legally restricted by all of the parks’ airspace and a three-mile buffer zone outside its boundaries. We have seen over the past two decades that voluntary flying to neighbors or other self-imposed restrictions by the air tour industry have had no positive effect on the natural and human residents of this island.

Many have suffered immensely for their profits. Prohibitive and enforceable exclusion regulations are the only solution.

These regulations must also apply to fixed wing and other privately owned aircraft. Military aircraft must also adhere to this same airspace exclusion. Their overflights were particularly noisy and also included night hours.

There are many other scenic spots in Hawaii for air tour operators to fly to, well outside of our national parks. If visitors want an aerial view of the parks, they should instead go to Bing Maps or Google Earth images and the parks’ webcams, both of which are silent and free for all.

The National Park Service ended its public comment period on Tuesday. However, the concerned public can still appeal to its public officials, especially US Senators and House Representatives, to take their messages directly to US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and US Department of the Interior Secretary Pete Buttigieg. United States Deb Haaland. Each has shown sensitivity and common sense in government decisions.

#Plans #air #tours #national #parks #Hawaii #disgraceful
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