People from all over the world are drawn to the Sedona area to experience its natural beauty. Visitors and residents love to explore the many hiking trails in the Coconino National Forest and are particularly impressed with the Wilderness Areas located in the forest. One key part of that experience is the opportunity for quiet exploration of the area. As the Forest Service has noted – “natural quiet is a value inherent to National Forest lands.”
As Sedona grew in tourism so did helicopter tours of the area. Even is 1998 the impact of helicopter tours was pronounced. The Forest Service noted: “Aircraft noise impacts on the Sedona area’s National Forest lands long ago surpassed the benign level, particularly when helicopter tour operations were added in the late 1980’s.”
KSB has been active is trying to ameliorate these noise issues for many years. In 2000, at the request of the Sedona Airport Authority, KSB formed a community committee to investigate what might be done. This became the Sedona (Citizens) Noise Abatement Committee (SNAC). These efforts led to the enactment of a Noise Abatement Protocol at the airport which sought voluntary adherence to FAA and airport recommendations to fly at least 2000 feet above ground level when conducting tours in the Sedona area.
In 2015 the issue of noise re-surfaced. Disturbances of wilderness and forest hiking areas increased. Pilots also refused to abide by the FAA Advisory and were conducting tours very near renown rock formations and heritage sites. Moreover the airport Master Plan projected that the number of helicopter flights would double to 20,000 in 15 years.
As a result KSB approached the City of Sedona and formed a Citizen’s Engagement Group to address this issue. This group has been working with the city, county (owner of the airport), airport authority, Forest Service and others to explore ways to improve this situation. In the coming year this group plans on launching a multi-faceted campaign to enlist public support for mandatory rules for the Sedona area. We would then go to governmental and other stakeholders to seek support for these requests. The goal is to obtain mandatory compliance by helicopter tour operators with the recommendations of both the FAA and the Sedona Airport Authority.
Feel free to call KSB at 928-282-4938 for more information on KSB’s involvement with the issue of airport noise in the Sedona area.