First it was water bottles and now it's air space. Grand Canyon National Park is making "grand" strides this year in its effort to protect the natural peace and beauty of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.


Last month, NPS officials at Grand Canyon ruffled feathers within the plastic water bottle industry when the park announced that it was banning the sale of disposable water bottles in response to concerns that the empty plastic bottles were scattered all over the canyon and spoiling the park's natural resources.


This week, NPS officials took on the air-tour industry when they announced a new plan to limit the number of private air-tour flights, hours and routes that tour operators fly over the 277-mile-long park. The new plan also requires quieter planes and helicopters. The objective of the new policy is to reduce the noise and disturbance that these tours create and allow for the protection of the solitude and natural sounds that wild spaces like the Grand Canyon offer.  


The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks in the world, so it's really no surprise that it has the most air tour flights of any national park in the country — as many as 57,000 flights each year.


The new Grand Canyon air-tour plan would cap the number of annual flights at 65,000. It's more than the previous high, but the tour hours would also be restricted. Sunset and sunrise would be off-limits entirely. Air tour operators who seek to offer tours at other times of day would be required to use planes and helicopters equipped with noise-abating technology. 


What do you think about the Grand Canyon's new air-tour policy? Did NPS officials go too far or not far enough?


Grand Canyon announces plan to restrict air tours
New policy would require quieter planes and helicopters while limiting the number of flights, hours and routes that tour operators could fly over the canyon.