Zion National Park needs your help in crafting an appropriate Soundscape Management Plan for its Wilderness Zone, which comprises 90% of the Park (84% is designated Wilderness and 6% is proposed Wilderness). Its preferred wilderness noise standards are too weak and fail to protect Wilderness values such as solitude, quiet, etc.
This is not just a fight over excessive and mounting aircraft noise. It is a fight to ensure that the National Park Service (NPS) takes and retains a leadership role in preserving our parks. We need an outpouring of public comments urging the Park Service to assert its legal responsibilities under its Organic Act and the Wilderness Act and to follow its own management policies. This Management Plan has the potential to be precedent-setting, so please make your voice heard.
Comments are due to NPS September 3rd and may be submitted online or mailed to: Zion National Park, Attn: SMP/EA, Springdale, Utah 84767.
Key Points to Make:
• Natural sounds are an important part of the experience in the Zion Wilderness and National Park, and should be protected and restored as much as possible.
• The Wilderness Act requires that Wilderness remain untrammeled and its wilderness character be preserved. Motorized noise harms both these wilderness values.
• NPS policy requires, when evaluating environmental impacts, to take into account the “preservation of natural conditions (including the lack of man-made noise).”
• The proposed NPS “Desired Conditions” Standard for human noise (including aircraft) in Wilderness in Zion National Park—at generally audible <25% of the time and periodically audible 50% of the time—is too weak to protect Wilderness.
• The Wilderness Zone “Desired Conditions” Standard should allow for zero motor noise.
• The NPS should, to the extent legally allowed, prohibit air tours over Wilderness and direct such activities to areas where they won't degrade the experience of those on the ground.
• NPS should continue to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on addressing noise from high-level aircraft and seek to minimize impacts to the Park.