Public Input Sought on Proposed Air Tour Management Plan for the Smokies

A helicopter flying through a mountain range.

The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are seeking public feedback on a draft Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) that is being proposed for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The agencies encourage anyone with an interest in or concern about air tours over Great Smoky Mountains National Park to review and comment on the draft ATMP. The proposed plan would authorize up to 946 air tours per year on defined routes. There were on average 946 air tours per year conducted by two air tour operators reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 2017 – 2019.

The NPS and FAA will host a virtual public meeting regarding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tour Management Plan on Thursday, September 16 at 4:30 p.m. that will be live streamed at https://youtu.be/BIIt8gzNVVA. Members of the public who wish to observe the virtual meeting can also access the livestream from the following FAA social media platforms on the day of the event, including https://www.facebook.com/FAAhttps://twitter.com/FAANews,or https://www.youtube.com/FAAnews.

Public feedback can be provided through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website from Friday, September 3 through Sunday, October 3. The NPS and FAA will consider comments to help inform the final ATMP for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The project website is available at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/GreatSmokyMountainsATMP.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is among 24 parks of the National Park System developing air tour management plans in cooperation with the FAA. The agencies hope to complete all air tour management plans by the end of August 2022. The schedule is part of a plan approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the agencies to comply with the National Parks Air Tour Management Act of 2000 within two years.

The FAA and the NPS have determined that each ATMP constitutes a Federal undertaking subject to compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800). The FAA and the NPS are consulting with tribes, State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, and other interested parties to identify historic properties and assess the potential effects of ATMPs on them.

Please visit this NPS site and this FAA site for more detailed information about air tour management plans. Links to meeting notifications, recordings, and slide decks (where applicable) will be posted to the NPS site.

The 24 parks:

1. Arches National Park, Utah

2. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

3. Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

5. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

6. Canyonlands National Park, Utah

7. Death Valley National Park, California

8. Everglades National Park, Florida

9. Glacier National Park, Montana

10. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Arizona, Utah

11. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

12. Great Smoky Mountains National Park; Tennessee, North Carolina

13. Haleakalā National Park, Hawai’i

14. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, Hawaiʻi

15. Lake Mead National Recreation Area; Arizona, Nevada

16. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

17. Muir Woods National Monument, California

18. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

19. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

20. National Parks of New York Harbor Management Unit; New York, New Jersey

21. Olympic National Park, Washington

22. Point Reyes National Seashore, California

23. Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah

24. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, California