The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are extending the public comment period on the draft Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) proposed for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to an error recently discovered on the project’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) home page, the comment period has been extended through Oct. 13, 2021, to allow ample time to review materials.
The error resulted in the inclusion of one sentence referencing another national park unrelated to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The following unrelated sentence should not have been included: “The ATMP is consistent with the Park’s 1999 General Management Plan and subsequent planning efforts in that it includes a provision on phasing out air tours through attrition.” This sentence has been appropriately removed, and the PEPC website notes the correction. The statement only applies to Glacier National Park and refers to the Glacier 1999 General Management Plan. It was erroneously included on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park PEPC ATMP page but is not included in, or relevant to, the ATMP for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The original September 3, 2021 press release describing the process and the alternatives outlined in the draft ATMP document for which comments are requested remains accurate. No additional changes or updates were made to the materials.
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.
Public feedback can be provided through the PEPC website through Wednesday, Oct. 13. 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.
– National Park Service release