Final EIS Released for JH Airport Agreement
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that the Jackson Hole Airport Agreement Extension/Final Environmental Impact Statement (Airport/FEIS) is available on the National Park Service (NPS) Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. The Airport/FEIS addresses continued air transportation services at the Jackson Hole Airport through an extension of the term of the 1983 agreement with the United States Department of the Interior (DOI).
The Airport/FEIS takes into account public and agency comments received on the draft environmental impact statement issued in April 2009, and incorporates additional analyses and information collected since that time. The Airport/FEIS considers two alternatives regarding the 1983 agreement: a no action alternative and an NPS preferred alternative.
Under the no action alternative, the 1983 agreement would remain unchanged and would expire on April 27, 2033. Beginning in 2013, however, the amount of time remaining on the agreement would no longer satisfy Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for funding. Without FAA funding, the Jackson Hole Airport Board would likely be unable to maintain certification for scheduled passenger service for more than a few years. Under the NPS preferred alternative, the authorized term of 1983 agreement would be extended by 20 years through the addition of two 10-year options, thereby allowing the Airport Board to meet FAA funding requirements. The agreement would also be amended to strengthen the requirements of the Airport Board and the NPS to further mitigate and reduce the effects of the airport on park resources.
The NPS intends to issue a Record of Decision at least 30 days after the date of publication of a Notice of Availability by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Federal Register.
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 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 $28 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.
A copy of the Airport/FEIS is available online at the PEPC website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. Navigate to Grand Teton National Park; select the link for airport agreement and then select the link for document list. The document is also available on the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/planning.htm.