National Parks Become ‘No Drones Zones’



On Friday, June 20th, the National Park Service announced a ban on drones flying over any National Park property until further notice. The ban would prohibit flying drones over any of the 84 million acres of land, or 4.5 million acres of water, that falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.  The agency listed a number of reasons for imposing the ban. Drones can disturb visitors and wildlife. In addition, drones could interfere with search and rescue operations.

Individual parks had already taken steps to ban drone flights earlier this year.  Heavily visited parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon imposed drone bans because they disturbed park visitors and climbers. In Zion National Park, a drone was responsible for harassing a bighorn sheep herd and separating the lambs from the adult sheep in the herd, putting the lambs at risk. Climbers have complained that drones flying through slot canyons put them in danger.

The ban will remain in effect until the National Park Service completes a review of its drone policy.  Drones will then probably be readmitted into National Parks, but will they be required to adhere to regulations designed to ensure safety for tourists and for wildlife. The ban will not apply to certain park authorized uses of drones such as tracking wildfires, assisting back country rescue efforts, and conducting scientific research in remote areas.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) anticipates that there will be around 7500 commercial and hobby drones flying over American airspace by 2018. The FAA expects that it may take several years to develop regulations for drone flights, but they have already opened up designated air space where drones can fly. These locations are being tested to see how drones affect air traffic control.

Critics of commercial drones have cited the high number of crashes by military drones to argue that commercial drones should be restricted. While most commercial and hobby drones are considerably smaller than military drones, the National Park Service is wise to exercise caution, and to ban drones from National Park airspace until further studies have been conducted.

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6 Replies to “National Parks Become ‘No Drones Zones’”

  1. I find that article to be most condescending, to both President Obama and Secretary Clinton, as well as female voters.

    The author suggests that the only reason women supported Clinton was because she is female. This also suggests that no women, or hardly any, supported then-Senator Obama – plenty of women supported him before he got the nomination. Hell, plenty supported him when no one thought he stood a snowball’s chance in hell of even making it past a primary. It also suggests that Obama won for no reason other than one vote and the color of his skin.

    She wins just because she’s female, he says. So she has no other credentials to recommend her to the highest office in the land? That’s an insult to HER, one straight out of the GOP playbook.

    The female electorate is not nearly as superficial as the author intimates.

    I quibble with the author, Sugapea, not you.

  2. I think if there is any doubt about whether these drones will harm wildlife in these parks, especially threatened and endangered wildlife, then they must not be flown there at all. If they are allowed in the future, then most definitely that recreation must be tightly controlled because of the fragility of the wildlife and some of these eco-systems.

  3. Oh goody, now we are just going to have more federal spies and more spies, hiding in the tree’s, under rocks, cammied up and literally tied to the side of a ledge, 1,000 feet up, ghillie suited to look like trees and with super duper camera’s, with long range lenses, taking pictures of any and everything, they deem suspicious, including a person hiding behind a bush, taking a whiz.

    To bad for America. It used to be such a nice place, for one and for all.

  4. This law is absolute bullcrap!! Driving and hiking cause more damage than drones, drone pilots should have the right use photography this way!

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