Speak Out Against Grand Canyon Airport Expansion

Grand Canyon airport (By J Brew)

Credit J. Brew

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) wants to spend $1.6 million of state funds and $18.6 million of federal funds to sink a new well, add lighting, upgrade runways and the existing terminal, and build a new terminal at Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan. Such developments would mean more threats to Grand Canyon’s seeps and springs due to the additional groundwater pumping, more light impeding the park’s dark skies, and more noise in Grand Canyon from larger jets these changes will accommodate. Last year, the airport served nearly 304,000 passengers, mostly for Grand Canyon air tours. A few years ago, the state considered closing this airport because it loses money. We should not subsidize damage to Grand Canyon’s seeps and springs, dark skies, and natural quiet!

Simultaneously, almost $36 million is proposed for Grand Canyon West (Hualapai) upgrades, including a new terminal. If you are annoyed by the constant buzz of aircraft at Quartermaster Canyon, you may want to express your outrage at the state’s plan to spend $1.8 million while the federal government contributes $32.5 million to increase the impact of aircraft on Grand Canyon.

Please speak out against the Grand Canyon Airport expansion. You can attend a hearing or send in written comments.

ADOT hearing
Friday, May 9
9 a.m.
City of Flagstaff Council Chambers
211 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff (map)

Not able to make the hearing? Submit written comments before May 20, 2014 at https://www.research.net/s/fiveyearprogram.

Below are talking points you can use to oppose airport expansions that threaten Grand Canyon:

  • We oppose allocating state and federal funds to airport expansions that will harm Grand Canyon while also risking the amount of revenue that businesses throughout the state receive from Grand Canyon visitation.
  • The 2014 ADOT Tentative Plan includes $1.5 million of state, almost $1 million of local, and $18.6 million of federal funding (total $21.2 million) to expand Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan to accommodate big jets (see page 28 in the ADOT Draft Airport plan).
  • According to an ADOT press release (April 4, 2012), “This new terminal will be designed to support major airlines flying in from other major hubs in the country…the Grand Canyon Airport can become a destination point for major airlines to offer flights to their customers.”
  • Almost $36 million is proposed for Grand Canyon West (Hualapai) upgrades, including a new terminal. There is already a constant buzz of aircraft at Quartermaster Canyon. Why should the state spend $1.8 million, while the federal government contributes $32.5 million, to increase the impact of aircraft on Grand Canyon’s west end?
  • The ADOT plan includes constructing a new water well at the Grand Canyon Airport. Grand Canyon’s seeps and springs will see decreased flows if more wells are dug in the Tusayan area. Science repeatedly demonstrates that groundwater below Tusayan is connected to the seeps and springs of Grand Canyon National Park and the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Modeling predicts declines at Indian Gardens, Hermit Spring, & Havasu Spring. Cottonwood Creek has already turned from perennial to intermittent within the last two decades, and Pumphouse Spring’s flow has been declining. There has also been “a declining trend in annual winter base flow since the late 1990s” for Havasu Creek below Havasu Spring. We shouldn’t allocate water to an airport when we know these springs already suffer from decreased water availability.
  • We need to plan for a dry future. The Bureau of Reclamation says Northern Arizona is likely to reach an unsustainable water supply by 2050. A new report released this week predicts the Colorado River will lose 15% of its flow by the end of this century. The Town of Williams faces a water crisis in 2014. The Arizona Daily Sun editorialized on Flagstaff’s situation on May 7, 2014, “The immediate task, though, is to get through dry years like this one without pumping wellfields dry during May and June.” and reported that the latest climate report signals, “Extreme risk to water supplies in Coconino County.” The ADOT Tentative Plan commits $1.1 billion to airports over the next 5 years. We shouldn’t commit state dollars major airport expansions when we don’t know if we’ll have water available to meet our existing needs.
  • Night lighting will impair dark skies. Many people see the Milky Way galaxy for the first time at Grand Canyon; hobby and research astronomers value the region’s night skies. Astronomy is a vital part of our economic base.
  • Increased resident populations and longer term visitation in Tusayan, facilitated by the Grand Canyon airport expansion will stress Park infrastructure and resources, at a time when funding for maintenance and improvement is unavailable.
  • Right now, the National Park Service is creating a plan to reduce air tour noise; commercial jets will greatly increase noise pollution.
  • ADOT should not spend state money in a way that will cost state businesses. Park visitors spent $201 million in Coconino County, outside Grand Canyon National Park, in 2003. Visitors spent money on goods and services during the journey through places like Sedona, Williams, Flagstaff, Route 66, and tribal lands. The average Grand Canyon travel party spends $595 within 90 miles of the Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Instead, ADOT should invest in all Arizona citizens and visitors by creating better mass transit, more pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and safer roadways with better wildlife crossings.

We should not subsidize damage to Grand Canyon’s seeps and springs, dark skies, and natural quiet!


About Protect Grand Canyon

Sierra Club's Restore and Protect the Greater Grand Canyon Ecoregion Campaign. Looking out for the 11,400 species that live in & love Grand Canyon!

Posted on May 7, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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