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NPS prohibits helicopter tours over Mount Rushmore

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The National Park Service is prohibiting helicopter tours over both the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Badlands National Park.

Commercial flights must stay at least a half-mile outside the boundaries of both parks, according to new rules developed by the NPS and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The air tour management plans were announced this month. Officials say they are designed to protect each parks’ “natural and cultural resources, tribal sacred sites and ceremonial areas, and visitor experience.”

This comes after years of criticism from residents and tourists who complained about noise from the helicopters, particularly around Mount Rushmore. Officials previously said as many as 4,000 tours per year passed by the memorial.

According to a statement from the NPS, the agency worked with several stakeholders, including tribal nations, recreation groups, other land management agencies and the public, to create the plans.

“We appreciate the engagement of the many stakeholders that worked with us on the development of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Air Tour Management Plan,” said park superintendent Michelle Wheatley. ” Prohibiting commercial air tours will protect the cultural and spiritual significance of these lands to Tribes and will provide a peaceful setting for visitors to enjoy and experience.”

NPS officials said the new rules go into effect 180 days after signing, meaning they’ll be enforced by mid-2024.

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Rapid City, US
6:07 am, February 23, 2024
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