However, outside groups such as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, have criticized the NPS and FAA for avoiding environmental reviews called for by the National Environmental Policy Act in designing the management plans. According to PEER, the agencies are claiming “categorical exclusions” — claims that air tours won’t have a significant impact on either the visitor experience or natural and cultural resources of a park — for deciding not to follow the entire NEPA process
“As with Glacier (National Park), NPS and FAA took the average for the past three years and adopted it it as their plan. There were no noise surveys or studies, no NEPA compliance or serious consideration of alternatives,” said Jeff Ruch, Pacific director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, in an email to the Traveler on Wednesday. “Unlike Glacier, there is no impending phase-out but instead provisions for potential new air tour operators to apply for new flights and routes.