NM seaplane ban opposed

October 18, 2012

New Mexico officials should work with pilots on mutual goals rather than adopt a state agency’s plan to ban seaplanes from public waters, AOPA said in a state regulatory filing.

Members are encouraged to review the proposed rule amendments by the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s State Parks Division, and submit comments by Oct. 31, as provided below.

AOPA has submitted formal comments opposing the ban within the state park system, which includes airports and water landing facilities. The association also is working with the Seaplane Pilots Association, the New Mexico Pilots Association and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to respond to the proposal that provides in part that “the taxiing, landing, or takeoff of seaplanes or floatplanes is prohibited in the state parks system.”

With only two landing facilities in New Mexico state parks, both owned and operated by the state’s aviation division, seaplane travel through the state could be drastically limited by a ban, said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy.

The state parks division did not provide a rationale for the proposed ban in a published notice prior to a public hearing Oct. 17 at which several attendees reportedly testified in opposition. The only testimony supporting it came from a state agency that cited financial issues and the possible spread of invasive aquatic species, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central/Southwest regional manager.

AOPA was encouraged to learn that supporters of continued seaplane access included the mayor of Truth or Consequences, N.M., the marina operator on Elephant Butte Lake, the state Department of Transportation, and the Army Corps of Engineers manager at Conchas Lake, who noted that the corps had no intention to restrict seaplane operations on the lake, Platt said.

In formal comments, AOPA asserted the right of all—including seaplane pilots—to enjoy public waters, noting that general aviation has taken a proactive approach to the invasive-species problem. AOPA has 2,918 members in New Mexico.

“By actively involving the seaplane and recreational pilot community, you will find that aviators understand the dangers and are more than willing to develop solutions that will benefit all parties,” Pecoraro wrote.

Members may submit comments on the proposal by Oct. 31 by email, or by mail to April Alvarado, EMNRD, State Parks Division, 1220 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505.