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Glacier Offers Plan To Phase Out Sightseeing Flights At Park

Hole-in-the-Wall Backcountry Campground in Glacier National Park.
David Restivo
National Park Service
Hole-in-the-Wall Backcountry Campground in Glacier National Park.

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials are asking for public comment on a plan to manage and eventually phase out commercial aircraft tours over Montana's Glacier National Park.

The proposal would effectively cap the number of flights allowed over the park at current levels, allow the park to set no-fly periods and better define acceptable routes for chartered planes and helicopters, the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell reported.

The proposed plan comes more than a year after a federal appeals court found that the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration failed to comply with a plan from 2000 that aimed to reduce noise and impacts to wildlife from sightseeing tours.

Frustrated by noisy helicopters around national parks in Hawaii, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono sued to force the government to comply. The U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., ruled in their favor in May 2020 and ordered the agencies to develop management plans for about two dozen national parks within two years, including Glacier.

The proposal for Glacier would cap the number of flights over the park at 144 per year, and park officials predict a gradual phasing-out of sightseeing tours through "attrition" of permit holders. The deadline to comment on the plan is Oct. 3.

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