3D Robotics

Drones now banned in all US National Parks


From Gizmodo:

The National Parks Service just announced a sweeping ban on drones. The new policy prohibits "launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service." Why? Because they're disruptive, that's why.

Drones are already banned in a few national parks, including Yosemite, for the simple fact that they're a noisy nuisance. These flying robots bother park-goers. They bother park rangers. And perhaps most importantly, they bother the wildlife. The Parks Service release even lists infractions:

In April, visitors at Grand Canyon National Park gathered for a quiet sunset, which was interrupted by a loud unmanned aircraft flying back and forth and eventually crashing in the canyon. Later in the month, volunteers at Zion National Park witnessed an unmanned aircraft disturb a herd of bighorn sheep, reportedly separating adults from young animals.

Disturbing the sheep!

Not all hope is lost for hobbyists who want a beautiful backdrop for their aerial drone-o-graphs, though. The Parks Service itself will also continue using drones "for administrative purposes such as search and rescue, fire operations and scientific study." The new policy is described as a "temporary measure" pending a more permanent regulation which "can take considerable time" to get approved.

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  • Developer

    As long as you are not using automated navigation via GPS way-points, but instead flying LOS then you are operating a model aircraft. But good luck explaining the subtle difference to a park ranger or bystander who has been programmed by media to recognize quads as "drones".

  • Important point raised in the comment by Tom Mahood. Drones aren't banned in all 401 parks suddenly and by fiat.

    What The National Park Service announced was an 18 month deadline for each park to update their local regulations to include language that bans drones. 

  • I saw this coming. A shame, I am going to Sleeping Bear Dunes next week and was looking forward to getting some views of what has been described as the "most beautiful place in America" with my helicopter.

    I am curious what the regulation making process is for the parks. Can they make rules/laws/regulations/policy without any public input?

  • stupid law!!!!

  • A very significant loss for us all and you can bet state parks everywhere will follow suit.

    Pretty soon the "Park Flyer" will become an anachronism.

  • If you view the full NPS press release here, there's some contradiction in it by the time you get to the bottom. And not unexpectedly, Gizmodo didn't do a good job of reporting it. Drone's aren't "now banned". What the NPS director did was to direct individual park superintendents to draw up regulations for each of their parks  "...to prohibit launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service". Sorta saw that coming but it will take some time to implement.

    But then towards the bottom of the release there's this little tidbit:

    Superintendents who have previously authorized the use of model aircraft for hobbyist or recreational use may allow such use to continue.

    So is there a cloudy distinction between "drones" and "model aircraft"? In the rules for Death Valley NP the operation of model aircraft is specifically permitted, as is operation in residential areas of Grand Canyon NP.

    Personally, I don't own any drones. I only own model aircraft I operate for recreation.

  • Answer: Long range FPV

  • That is a shame as parks are the best and safest place to fly hobby airplanes. Big open spaces and deserted areas without people. 

    I disagree with noise nuisance, as they are pretty quite. A group of people laughing would make more noise and can also be more nuisance.

    Disturbance of animals should not happen, but can just as easily be done by running into the fields and screaming,

    Idiots disturbing the peace with a hobby plane/copter should be treated the same as any other regular idiot disturbing the peace without one.  These new regulations are just based on unfounded fears,

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