JACKSON, Wyo. — During a regular Town Council meeting on May 17, the Council passed a resolution supporting the ban of heli-tours in Grand Teton National Park. The Teton County Board of County Commissioners passed a similar resolution on April 20.
Both resolutions draw attention to the issue but have no legal standing due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations that the Jackson Hole Airport is required to operate under.
Currently, one helicopter tour operates out of the Jackson Hole Airport; Wind River Air.
During the meeting on Monday, Town Attorney Lea Colasuonno said, “This is more than symbolic, it expresses your community’s statement about the air tour issue and speaks directly to legislatures in looking for some relief.”
“A federal agency has to find a violation of that contract that they have with the airport. That has not been found despite the fact that the airport has reported what it believes to be indications of violations,” said Colasuonno.
According to the County, since the permit for Wind River Air was granted, there have been at least six noise violation complaints from county residential areas. A number of those violations have been video recorded.
The Jackson Hole Airport operates under Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations and cannot restrict flight paths because of the Aviation Noise and Capacity Act of 1990.
Grand Teton National Park offers guidance, suggesting that an aircraft should stay 2,000 feet above landscapes but it is not a legally enforceable restriction.
Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen said, “This isn’t about any one operator. This is about preserving this place and recognizing the special place that it is.”
Jorgensen discussed how this resolution will help move this issue forward in D.C and that the local support is significant to “beginning to lay the groundwork to change that law.”
“The significant importance behind it is political,” said Jorgensen