The one-paragraph order handed down Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia directs the two agencies to “(1) explain why the agencies were unaware that they were behind schedule as of their November 24, 2021 status report; (2) propose firm compliance dates for each park; and (3) provide the legal basis for any anticipated categorical exclusion and the date by which the agencies will make that determination.”
The issue of air-tour management plans for the National Park System has been hanging over the NPS and FAA for more than two decades. Back in March, almost two years after a federal judge ordered the agencies to get the job done by this summer, they said the air-tour plans for eight national parks would not be completed on schedule.
When the agencies reported that situation to the court in March, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility asked the court to suspend all overflights across those parks that haven’t finished their plans by August. The parks involved are Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Badlands National Park, Hawaiˈi Volcanoes National Park, and Haleakalā National Park.