Don't Let Sloan Canyon Become a Helicopter Flight Zone
Sloan Canyon is the newest addition to the National Landscape Conservation System -- 26 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands protected for their spectacular environment and historical and cultural sites.
Sloan Canyon NCA was designated just two years ago by Congress to protect unique petroglyph sites, rugged canyons, and one of the few remaining wild places left near a rapidly growing metropolitan center. This wonderful, mountainous desert lies just south of Henderson, and is visible when looking south from almost anywhere in the Las Vegas valley. The Canyon is a sacred place for Native Americans, and rock art from up to 2,000 yers ago is well-preserved in this ancient place. Joshua trees are abundant at the higher elevations while creoste and cacti dominate the lower areas. Walking is easy in some washes, but steep, rugged canyons also challenge hikers. Hikers often see desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, chuckwalla, and birds of prey. The 48,000-acre NCA also contains 17,000 acres of designated wilderness -- the North McCullough Wilderness Area.
An Overflight Every Four Minutes?
Clark County Aviation Department wants to move tourist helicopter operations out of Las Vegas' McCarran Airport to ease air traffic congestion and noise which bothers thousands of residents on Tropicana Road and Charleston Boulevard. Currently, McCarran services about 90 helicopter round trips a day to the Grand Canyon.
The entire Nevada Congressional delegation has endorsed legislation that would make federal land available for a new heliport just south of Sloan Canyon, and mandate a flight path for the helicopters over Sloan Canyon NCA and the North McCullough Wilderness. The legislation would allow the helicopters to fly as low as 500 feet above the ground at the western edge of the National Conservation Area. With about 90 round-trip overflights a day, wildlife and visitors to the Canyon would endure the sound of a helicopter roaring overhead about every four minutes during daylight hours. More than half of the Wilderness and about a third of the conservation area would be blanketed by helocopter noise.
A Simple Solution
The flight path can be directed just a few miles to the South to entirely avoid Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. There is an existing power line corridor about four miles south of the NCA that offers a lower elevation alternative to flying over te NCA and the wilderness it contains, while still keeping communities free of excess noise.
The heliport location should also be reconsidered: alternate sites are available. Sites such as the one on the eastern side of the Las Vegas valley near the vicinity of the old Sunrise landfill are more appropriate. Since all of the flights to the Grand Canyon travel east, a heliport on the east side of the valley makes more sense than the southern proposal that would disrupt the wilds of Sloan Canyon.
For additional information, contact:
Bill James, Friends of Sloan Canyon, 702-361-6854
Other useful links:
Updated: August 2004
- Bureau of Land Management web site: Sloan Canyon NCA
- News Articles on Sloan Canyon Heliport Issue
- Friends of Sloan, Terri Robertson
- Friends of Nevada Wilderness
- Nevada Wilderness Project
- Sierra Club, Southern Nevada Group
- Wilderness Support Center