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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Lead IOs Andriod Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried