JH Airport Agreement Extension Draft EIS Released

March 30, 2009
The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that the Jackson Hole Airport Use Agreement Extension Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Airport DEIS) has been released for public comment. The purpose of the Airport DEIS is to enable continued air transportation services at the Jackson Hole Airport through an extension of the term of the existing agreement with the United States Department of the Interior (DOI). An extension of the agreement is needed to ensure that the Jackson Hole Airport will remain eligible for federal funding beyond the year 2013.

In 2005, the NPS initiated a process under the National Environmental Policy Act to address the Jackson Hole Airport Board’s request to extend the term of their agreement. The airport is located on 533 acres of federal land within Grand Teton National Park and operates under the terms of a 1983 agreement between the Airport Board and the DOI. The NPS administers the agreement, which currently authorizes the operation of the airport until April 27, 2033. Under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, an airport must own its land or have more than 20 years remaining on its lease or agreement in order to remain eligible for grants from the FAA. Without an extension of the agreement’s term, the airport would lose its eligibility for Airport Improvement Program funding in April of 2013 — 20 years before the current agreement expires.

Grants from the FAA cover 95 percent of the eligible costs for airfield capital improvement or repair projects that enhance airport safety, capacity, or security, and for projects that address environmental concerns. Over the past decade, this program has funded almost $25 million in projects at the Jackson Hole Airport. Similar funding will be needed in the future to enable the airport to maintain the certification that enables it to provide scheduled commercial passenger service.

The Airport DEIS considers two alternatives. Under the no action alternative, the term of agreement would not be extended, and the airport would likely be unable to maintain its certification for scheduled commercial passenger service within a few years. The airport would continue operations at a much reduced level, serving only general aviation, and would close no later than April 2033. Under the preferred alternative, the agreement would be extended by the addition of two 10-year options, thus ensuring continued eligibility for future Airport Improvement Program funds.

A copy of the Airport DEIS is available online at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site through the following URL: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. The document is also available on Grand Teton National Park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/planning.htm, or interested persons may request a copy through the Superintendent’s Office by calling 307.739.3410.

The review and public comment period will run for approximately 60 days. The actual closing date for comments will be determined by the Environmental Protection Agency issuance of a Notice of Availability of the Airport DEIS in the Federal Register and will be announced at a later date. Written comments may be submitted through the PEPC Web site, in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted over the phone, by fax, or e-mail.