In an effort to maintain the peace and quiet national parks are known for, Rep. David Skaggs, D-Colo., has introduced a bill giving the Park Service more control over who flies over its lands. His National Park Scenic Overflights Concessions Act gives power to the secretary of the Interior and the Park Service to regulate sightseeing flights just as they manage other private concessions. Scott Groene with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says Skaggs' bill is a welcome tool for addressing the proliferation of helicopters and planes in the backcountry. But Jay Chamberlain of the National Parks Conservation Association says the bill has problems. By treating air tours as just another concession, he says, the bill doesn't give the Park Service a chance to say "no" to the tour operators. "Once a concession is established, they are very hard to remove," says Chamberlain. Current law requires parks to give preferential rights to the businesses they permit, making them almost permanent fixtures.


* Shea Andersen