Park Flyovers Raise Noise Concerns

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Complaints about noisy overflights above Muir Woods National Monument, just north of San Francisco, are on the rise, the Marin Independent Journal reported on Monday. Visitors and workers at the park say seaplanes and helicopters flown on aerial tours are increasingly disrupting the serenity of the redwood forest. "It seems like people are getting wealthy with these tours, but it's ruining the experience for those who come to Muir Woods for solace," Thomas Martell told the Independent Journal. Local operators said there have no been no recent changes in routes or the number of flights, so they couldn't explain the uptick in complaints. "We try to be a good neighbor," said tour owner John McLelland. Another operator speculated that maybe a change in air currents is affecting the perception of noise. To address the issue, the park has asked the FAA to investigate noise issues at Muir Woods and Alcatraz.

The FAA's Air Tour Management Program is working to create noise-abatement plans for 107 park units. The FAA and the National Park Service so far have started work on plans for six parks in Hawaii, and seven in the continental U.S. (Yellowstone, Badlands, and Petrified Forest National Parks; Lake Mead National Recreation Area; Navajo and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments; and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). This summer, acoustic data was collected at Navajo National Monument, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park and Glacier National Park. At a congressional hearing this summer, officials reported they were in the initial stages of identifying potential impacts and developing alternatives to mitigate or prevent significant adverse effects on the parks.