Grand Teton National Park Officials Plan to Extend Jackson Hole Airport's Lease For 20 Years

With the Tetons as a backdrop, the Jackson Hole Airport just might have the most scenic airport setting in the country. Kurt Repanshek photo.

One of the most scenic airports in the country is the one surrounded by Grand Teton National Park with its jagged skyline. You'll long be able to enjoy that view into Jackson under a plan endorsed by park officials that will extend the airport's lease on life to mid-century.

Had park officials not made that recommendation in a just-released Final Environmental Impact Statement, the airport might have run into serious financial problems as soon as 2013 due to Federal Aviation Administration requirements. The requirements in play require airports that don't own the land on which they sit -- and the 533-acre footprint of the airport is on federal land surrounded by the national park -- to have at least 20 years left on its lease to qualify for FAA funding.

So, without an extension, in April 2013 -- 20 years before the current lease signed back in 1983 is set to expire -- the airport would lose its eligibility for Airport Improvement Program funding, according to park officials. According to park officials, FAA grants 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

To see that that revenue stream doesn't vanish, park officials now are planning to tack two 10-year extensions onto that agreement, effectively stretching it out to 2053.

That extension also calls for tougher requirements the airport board and the Park Service must meet to mitigate and reduce effects of the airport on Grand Teton's resources. Those mitigation efforts focus largely on reducing noise from landing aircraft. You can find the details of these efforts in the 742-page FEIS, found on the park's website on this page.

Comments

What a shame that an airport with its associated noise should be placed in front of a scenic view that is a national treasure

Want a scenic view, Anon? Check this site.

The airport expansion has really added to the Jackson Hole airport experience. As a local who works in the travel industry, I can say that it's definitely a much more efficient process with the new renovations. And of course, it's still one of the most incredible and unique airport landings in the country.

The airport was established before the NPS had control over the land. I don't know if there was another place where an airport could be placed. It's actually in a pretty flat area and far from any of the major visitation areas.

They placed a ski resort into a mountain in the Tetons. I'd think that's a bigger issue than an airport located several miles from the Tetons.