Paragliders may take flight in park

Council OKs elimination of prohibition ‘in concept’

A small group of paragliders convinced the City Council Tuesday (Sept. 2) to move forward “in concept” in a process that will allow them to fly in Upper Bidwell Park. Such activity has been prohibited for more than two decades.

The Bidwell Park and Playground Commission approved the matter 5-2, designating three sites on the North Rim for take-off and two below for landing. The pilots, as they call themselves, have already paid $1,500 for a botanical survey of the sites that found no sensitive species.

The group has also agreed to pay for further environmental review expected to cost $6,400, though it was clear some of them thought it was unnecessary. As one of them said, their only impact on the park is the same as hikers’, with the sole difference being that they also fly.

Councilmembers were concerned about heavy use, but the pilots noted that there were few of them in town and conditions for flying were right only about 10 percent of the time. The council wants to see a set of rules and regulations and proof of insurance before giving final approval.