Peace and Quiet


Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), famed for such groundbreaking legislation as the Pet Protection and Safety Act and the Senate Day Care Center Recycling Funding Support Act, has taken another small step toward micromanaging every aspect of modern existence.

Akaka and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) attached an amendment to the National Air Transportation System Improvement Act of 1998 which requires the formulation of an Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) for each national park. The ATMP will restrict the ability of helicopter tours to fly over national parks by limiting both flight paths and the number of flights.

"Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach," said Akaka, "our legislation establishes a fair and rational process in which environmental and aviation needs can be addressed in the context of the unique circumstances that exist at individual national parks." The initial results of this new approach may seem modest: limiting helicopter tours of Hawaii's volcanoes and the Grand Canyon. But the amendment is part of the latest green agenda: making national parks off-limits to most tourists.

In an August 25 Los Angeles Times column, Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson writes that "we must quickly move to save our parks from the din of machinery," a goal that includes phasing out automobiles and ending the use of jet skis, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes. "These motorized recreational uses," he writes, "simply are not compatible with the National Park Service's mission." Nelson doesn't spell out his view of that mission, but it seems to be incompatible with private vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.