America acts to to safeguard its national parks

The new year is promising to bring some respite to America's chronically overused national park system with sharp increases in visitor entrance fees and the promise of other measures to curb human intrusion - particularly of the mechanised kind in cars and aircraft.

Bruce Babbitt, the US Secretary of the Interior, marked the start of 1997 by announcing stricter limits on aircraft overflying the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Under the new rules, aeroplane and helicopter tours will be outlawed in 80 per cent of the airspace over the canyon, compared with 40 per cent previously. In the summer months, all flying will be barred before 8 am and after 6 pm.

The new controls are designed, however, as only the first phase in a longer-term plan to reverse the encroachments of all private vehicles in the canyon and other popular parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. At the canyon, for example, proposals already approved will eventually force visitors to leave their cars outside the park and take shuttle buses to points inside.

"At peak periods of summer overflights, the south rim of the Grand Canyon is noisier than Times Square on New Year's Eve," Mr Babbitt said as he announced the flight limits. Underlining the dawn and dusk plane curfews, he added: "These are the truly magical hours in the Grand Canyon".

The entire park system, meanwhile, should be considerably fortified by the increase in entrance fees approved by the US Congress last year. Due to take effect this month, the changes will mean for instance a doubling from $10 to $20 of the entrance charge for one car into the canyon this summer.

The change in rates will especially benefit the largest parks which have been trying to reconcile falling federal contributions with rapidly rising visitor volumes. Yellowstone drew international attention to the issue last summer when it closed down some of its areas to tourists, pleading penury.

By addressing motorised traffic, meanwhile, the government is getting into the central dilemma of the park system's management: at what point does the need to protect America's wonders become more important than the principle of keeping them accessible to all?

The plan gradually to expel private cars from the Grand Canyon will be put into motion this year and phased in over 15 years. If all goes well, from 2012 no more will be allowed entry.

"In some ways this says `no more, we are not going to remain slaves to the automobile', as we have been," Ron Arnberger, the superintendent of the Grand Canyon, said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee