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BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TETON COUNTY
COMMERCIAL AIR TOURS OVER GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
WHEREAS, Wind River Air, LLC scenic helicopter tours represents a commercial use that is incompatible with Grand Teton National Park and other surrounding public lands; and
WHEREAS, the mission of Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System and specifically the resources and values within the boundary of Grand Teton National Park for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations; and
WHEREAS, GTNP is the only national park in the country that has a commercial airport within its boundary; and
WHEREAS, the Jackson Hole Airport (JHA) operates under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations regarding authorized operations and aeronautical activities; and
WHEREAS, those activities include aircraft arrivals and departures necessary for the transportation of people and cargo; and
WHEREAS, those activities, regulated under the FAA, also include daily flight operations that are for scenic purposes only and not for passenger transport; and
WHEREAS, multiple daily scenic tours originate from airports outside but on the borders of GTNP and Yellowstone National Park; and
WHEREAS these flight operations from surrounding airports purport to be for transport but whose documented flight paths clearly indicate are for scenic purposes; and
WHEREAS, the JHA, under the FAA guidelines, cannot further restrict flight paths because of the federal preemption provided by the Aviation Noise and Capacity Act of 1990; and
WHEREAS, GTNP offers guidance that aircraft should stay 2,000 feet or more above the landscape but that this is only guidance and not a legally enforceable restriction; and
WHEREAS, scenic helicopter tours have created well-documented negative impacts over GTNP and adjacent public lands that include noise, wildlife disturbances, scenic intrusions in viewsheds, potential safety hazards, interference with Teton County Search and Rescue operations and diminished experiences for visitors of the park; and
WHEREAS, Congressional legislation directing the FAA to craft rules and guidance restricting flights for scenic purposes is the most effective method to protect the mission and values of GTNP.
NOW, THEREFORE, having duly met at a regular meeting and considered the matter, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners, does hereby support a permanent ban of commercial helicopter tours over Grand Teton National Park and other public lands in Teton County, Wyoming, and the Town of Jackson, and seeks Congressional relief through legislation.
ADOPTED ON THE 20TH DAY OF APRIL 2021.
TETON COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Natalia D. Macker, Chair
Maureen E. Murphy, Teton County Clerk