In a major step forward for sustainability in red rock country, Sedona helicopter tour operators have agreed to “no-fly” zones encompassing the entire City of Sedona, it was announced today. Under the agreement, several major resorts and neighborhoods outside the city limits are also included where tour helicopters will no longer overfly.
The City of Sedona, Yavapai County, the Sedona Airport Authority, Keep Sedona Beautiful, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, and helicopter operators Guidance Air and Sedona Air Tours announced the agreement after 18 months of negotiation.
“By working together, we are permanently reducing helicopter noise in Sedona and throughout red rock country, effective immediately,” said Chamber President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff.
“Natural quiet is a fragile asset that is crucial to Sedona’s quality of life, the experience we offer visitors and our environmental sustainability,” added Wesselhoff. “Sedona Air Tours and Guidance Air are respected businesses and excellent community partners. We are delighted with their commitment to noise reduction.”
As Sedona works to safely reopen following the coronavirus shutdown, civic leaders continue to achieve Sedona’s sustainability goals. “As we recover, Sedona becomes better than ever,” Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty said. “This agreement makes us even more desirable as a home for our residents and a destination for travelers.”
A map of the ‘no-fly’ zones was also released today. Other key points in the agreement:
- Regular tour flights will occur only between 8 a.m. and dusk
- Flight paths and altitudes will be electronically documented and archived
- A protocol for noise complaints will be publicized at www.SedonaAirNoise.com
- Operators will not hover over or near sensitive archeological sites or at any time during tour operations
- Operators will be sensitive to the impact of noise on neighborhoods and heritage site such as ruins and areas sacred to indigenous peoples.
Commercial tour operators also agree to use specific arrival and departure routes and flight altitudes from the Sedona Airport, where tours are based. The newly agreed-upon routes take the helicopters over less populated areas.
“The Sedona/Oak Creek Airport Authority and Yavapai County support our joint efforts to mitigate airport noise,” said Sedona City Manager Justin Clifton. “This is a cooperative effort with a noticeable, positive impact on the quality of life for residents. This project is a true testament to the power of collaboration and cooperation and the value of the Sustainable Tourism Plan in Sedona.”
Monitoring and mitigating helicopter noise is one of the 61 tactics in the Sedona Sustainable Tourism Plan, a comprehensive community-based effort to balance Sedona’s quality of life, economy, environment and visitor experience. After an 18-month public process led by the Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, the Plan was adopted unanimously by the Sedona City Council in March 2019.