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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  • I don't understand the banning in National Parks.  I do understand limitations.  In Yellowstone, yea, it's probably not a good idea to use one over the geysers and springs as the fellow who lost his did.  Also, of course don't fly over or close to people and their vehicles, tents, whatever, that's common courtesy.  But for reasons that it disturbes wild-life, they're noisy and if people seeing them in the air ruins their time.....that's getting far fetched.  In Louisiana, we have a National Park of a decomissioned ruined military base.  ATV's, camping, hunting is all allowed.  But a drone is not?  An ATV is louder than a drone and more people are killed in ATV accidents per year than there have been accidents with hobby drones in 5 years.  So ATV's, people camping, and hunting, that's okay for the wildlife but don't fly a drone?  National parks are some of the best places to fly because it's so beautiful.  We just need practical regulations.  Punish the people not acting responsible with the equipment, don't punish the equipment.

  • If you swing a can of peas and disturbed someone, you might not get in trouble... but, like with drones/rc stuff, you have tens of thousands of people out there swinging can of peas disturbing people thinking is fine, possibly bothering wildlife and even destroying something, then laws, as wide as possible to cover canned soups or even drums.

  • the original rules for or rather intended for transportation devices.....clearly, they arent banning my motor driven film camera are they?

    again, there are rules in place to discourage (or worst) people from bothering, disturbing, other people and wildlife... nothing needs to change with regards to adding a more 'defined' rule against drones/remote controlled devices, etc...

    If I swung a can of peas, and disturbed someone, or destroyed something, or bothered wildlife, do you think I could go on unfettered by others and law enforcedment just because the current laws dont define the use of a can of vegetables?   and if they do create a law against canned vegetables, could  I use canned soup?

    as for going out to the wild life instead of fpv'ing.. yup,  Im all over that when I can... some dont have the opportunity or ability.... and if they have a wide open area that happens to be designated a national park, and Im flying my r/C drone, and there isnt a single other person within miles, (except the friendly, (or not), park ranger, shouldnt mean I should get a ticket or pay fines or miss work or travel miles to a an out of area court, just because I wasnt polite enuf to the ranger, or he didnt percieve I was polite enuf... to warrant a 'warning', or a mal-interpretation of some law..and the newer the law the more chance or abuse or mal-informed 'officers of the law to occur

    cops only want more reasons to harass folk.. this new rule/law will give them the ability to harass the good folk, not the ones who are harassing innocents

  • @ Bill, yes given that there are some parks that allow model aircraft in certain areas, it may not turn out to be an outright ban.  But it will come down to decisions made at each park.

    In my humble opinion (and many other's opinions), there has got to be some places left on this earth where we can leave the chaos, noise, and trappings of civilization behind.  Designated Wilderness areas and some non-wilderness areas of parks are some of those places.  If you have not struck out on foot, canoe, raft, skis, or dogsled away from roads, planes, trains, and automobiles, I highly recommend it.  It can provide a great sense of freedom and perspective...even more satisfying than a good fpv flight...gasp! blasphemy! :-)

    Even though large areas of parks do not have many people in them, the areas of designated Wilderness  were meant to be free of motorized use.  The Wilderness Act of 1964 specifically states that:

    "except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area." (Section 4C)

    As I mentioned above about half of all the acreage is designated Wilderness as well as large chunks of US National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and Bureau of Land Management lands.  To explore where these boundaries are you can use this really handy interactive digital map:



  • The parks are thousands of square miles. %99 of it isn't over people. If they can't come up with a very reasonable solution it will only illustrate it isn't really about drones it's about ego's and or media hype.  

  • Moderator

    I think a constructive, common sense approach is much more appropriate than an outright blanket ban.  I'm sure most drone flyers would be more than happy to follow simple guidelines.  Some that I saw were no flying near wild life or wildlife conservation areas, no flying during search & rescue operations (unless assisting), no flying near beaches or where lifeguards are on duty, no flying over crowds, no flying where NO FLY signs are posted.  

    The outright blanket ban on drones in national parks creates an unnecessary  antagonistic relationship between drone flyers and the people who manage and operate the parks. 

  • Managing parks is a balancing act between a bunch of different interests and user groups.  I would urge folks to read the laws passed by congress (as close to the will of the people we can get) that

    enable National Parks: NPS Organic Act

    and The Wilderness Act that protects over half of all acreage that is the responsiblity of the NPS.

    In my 10 years of service with the National Park Service it has been my experience that most employees of the NPS are conscientious about upholding the laws that direct them as well as listening to the ideas, thoughts and concerns of the public...particularly if the comments are constructive and thoughtful.

  • One note, this is not a R or D, or this administration/that administration problem, this covers all politicians as we have seen politicians jump from one party to another just to say in power and control.

    With that said, the parks belong to the people, not the government.
  • The National Park Service has released a memorandum banning all drone use in all national parks June 20, 2014.


    Please post your complaints to this Facebook page and the announcement of this ban https://www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice?fref=nf

    So a typical tyrannical government move instead of creating laws and rules to specifically deal with the problem of unsafe pilots. The national park service believes it can just take away everyone's rights away with out a fight.
    Currently all compendiums of each national park must be honored until they are redrawn up which will be up to each superintended of each national park to decide.

    We need to be LOUD and voice our displeasure with the national park service for this move please post your displeasure on NPS face book page
    Have your voice herd or let your freedom be stolen quietly

  • RE-  Eventually we can hope sane and reasonable regulations will result that actually work to the benefit of the whole public, us included.

    Not by judging how screwed up they got all the other industries they touch. The department of energy was created to help us be more energy self sufficient. Today they are the number one obstacle to reach that end. The department of education now dictates to teachers how and what to teach. I've seen first hand how insane the curriculum is.  It's false assumtion they can make things better this will be no different. The stupid people with continue to be stupid while the rest of us will follow the new laws that WILL be based on media hype NOT what it should be which is common sense. 

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