8 Comments

Summary:

The National Park Service just banned drones in parks across the country. The ban makes sense in some regards, but a long term policy is still needed.

So far this year, unmanned aircraft have terrorized bighorn sheep in Utah’s Zion National Park and crashed in front of campers trying to watch a sunset in the Grand Canyon. Now, the head ranger has had enough.

On Friday, the director of the National Park Service signed a decree saying that drones shall fly no more over the lands and waterways of the country’s parks. The order comes after a similar order last month that banned the devices from Yellowstone.

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care. However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks,” director Jonathan Jarvis said in a statement.

Jarvis’s statement suggests the ban will be temporary as the Parks Service attempts to create a policy to address the use of unmanned aircraft in the parks. While the devices can be a nuisance if used irresponsibly, they also provide unique opportunities for photography and scientific research in the parks.

The ban comes at a time of growing tension over how to regulate the lightweight aircraft as they grow in popularity with hobbyists. Recent months have also seen an assault involving a drone at the beach and a lawsuit in which a search-and-rescue team is challenging the FAA for a right to use unmanned aircraft on missions.

Right now, the legal status of consumer drones is unclear since the FAA does not have clear authority over the devices below 700 feet.

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Friday, August 29, 2014
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8 Comments

  1. James Murphy Friday, June 20, 2014

    So 3 incidents in six months with 280 million visitors a year to National Parks is worthy of ‘serious concern’?

    1. So, you need an itemized list, incident by incident, beyond the few used to illustrate the article.

      Sophistry.

      1. No – his question is completely valid and can not be dismissed so easliy. How many car accidents occur in National Parks every year ? Should we ban them too ?

        1. His question is valid – if you’re too lazy to search and read the dozens of articles reporting on tomfoolery, crashes and abuse every day.

    2. How many incidents in six months do you think would be acceptable?

  2. Another invasion of privacy. Fly yours over my property and it becomes target practice.

    1. How is this an invasion of privacy in a Public National Park ? How is it different than some random stranger video recording the sunset while other random people walk in and out of their shot ?

  3. Saying “drone” is like saying assault style rifle or Obamacare. They are scare tactic words.

    People have been flying them for years. They are called Radio Controlled Aircraft. Drone != camera. Drone != illegal. Camaras + RCA != illegal (unless it is for commercial use)

    If you are worried about privacy, get off the internet and don’t leave your house.