Lavar

No use of drones in National Parks

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I recently traveled through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah where some of US's most beautiful National Parks are located. I was anxiously anticipating taking some wonderful aerial shots of these parks but quickly discovered that we are not allowed to use our drones in National Parks. What a hugh disappointment. Does anyone know what the reasoning is for this restriction?

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Becuase of short sited pinheads...

On 7/15/2018 at 6:41 PM, Dave Pitman said:

Sure.  A majority of the population would prefer to not see or hear a drone when visiting a National Park.

Sure, but it's OK to fly ultralights and ride Harleys through Yosemite Valley... 

As you mentioned, these parks are incredibly beautiful natural resources that everyone should have access too.  Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons that isn't possible.  Ansel Adams would not be allowed to photograph Yosemite today the way he did nearly 100 years ago.  

wright_0924-1_adams.jpg.c86e7aa37f6f0149cbe3d7c7f9e0ed04.jpg

Where would the Sierra Club be if he hadn't?  Would there even be a "Park Service" to restrict drones from flying over?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Av8Chuck said:

Sure, but it's OK to fly ultralights and ride Harleys through Yosemite Valley... 

Dang, good point. Maybe a nice compromise would be a more formalized permitting processing — maybe limit time up in the air, or times of day / week. Or you have to have an NPS person present during the shoot. Pay some kind of fee?

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The Park Service isn't really equipped to issue and enforce permits for much of anything.  Thier way of dealing with drones is to just ban them outright.  

A better strategy might be to issue some common sense guidelines and trust the operators to do the right thing.  Despite the short-sighted regulatory GEO-Fencing and UTM proposals/policies, it seems to be working the overwhelming majority of the time.  There are not the wholesale invasion of privacy issues, mid-air collisions, deaths or serious injury resulting from civil drone use that justify the level of restrictions.    

Yes, there's the possibility that some idiot with a drone will fly to close to someone climbing Half-Dome to get that great YouTube shot that could cause a climber to fall.   

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — Two rock climbers were killed when they were struck by lightning atop famed Half Dome here, park officials said Sunday. Three others were injured, two of them critically.

Two climbers didn't survive a fall in Yosemite National Park, according to the National Park Service. They fell while climbing the Freeblast Route on El Capitan inside the park Saturday morning.

Not that sound judgment and common sense have much to do with regulating stuff...

 

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7 hours ago, Av8Chuck said:

Sure, but it's OK to fly ultralights and ride Harleys through Yosemite Valley... 

My response did not reflect my opinion but the opinion of the Park Service.  The OP asked "why" and that is the answer.  We can all complain and jump up and down but it doesn't do any good. 

The same "problem" exists in many other similar areas.  Why can't mountain bikes be ridden on trails in the Park but you can ride a horse that causes 50x more trail damage and horses are generally unpredictable when encountering walkers?  Same reason.  It's "new" tech and its much easier to just say no than to actually figure out a plan.

The "plan" need not be complicated.... 

Example:

"Tuesdays and Thursdays, a limited # of drones will be allowed in a given area by prior registration.  This policy will be posted so that other park users can decide if they want to visit on a Tue. or Thur. knowing that they may see or hear a drone on those days.  Any other day, they know they will not see or hear a drone."

Done, problem solved and everyone gets what they want.  Way too simple of a solution though.  IF the Park were to consider some form of policy, they will spend 3 years and 2.5 million dollars to study a solution.

You see.  My answer cut right to the bone.  I could have went on and on like I did here.  ?

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Rather than just assuming this is true for all NPS or other DOI land management agencies, try stopping into the visitors center or site management center (Fish and Wild Life, BLM and NPS all have facilities at any refuge, national park etc..) and ask. Many have permitting allowances. So yeah it may cost you some cash to get a permit but it never hurts to ask, worse they can do is say no and give you a point of contact to send your concerns to... by the way, never accept a local contact, they'll be in DC somewhere, typically Reston or Herndon VA for Parks and BLM at least. Though National Parks managers have a lot of autonomy and local authority.. not so true with BLM or FWS managers. Parks is weird that way

Edited by BadShot

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Well, I certainly appreciate all of the responding comments to my initial question. Personally I like Dave Pitman's idea of designating certain days and a limited number of permits.  Perhaps they could require a drone pilot to have their FAA Part 107 Certificate so the pilot would know not to fly over people or harass wildlife, for example.  Anyway, I'm getting so frustrated with all of the varied restrictions by each State, County, or small town, that I'm about to sell my DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO with all of my accessories to the highest bidder and abandon finishing the Part 107 course that I paid $250 for, and abandon my hopes to perhaps provide drone photography services to my community in ways I know would be beneficial.  If things aren't changed soon I'm afraid this rapidly growing drone industry will take a downward dive that will devastate everyone one involved.  Like most investments,  maybe it's best we all sell out while we can maybe get something out of our investment. As you can tell, I'm pretty frustrated as I've only been able to fly my drone twice in the past year due to all of the restrictions.  I'm one who will do all I can to adhere to all of the varied restrictions so, for me, it's almost impossible to ever find a place where drone photography is allowed.  PLEASE, FAA, HELP ALL OF US THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THIS 'RAPIDLY GROWING INDUSTRY' BEFORE IT COLLAPSES TO NOTHING.

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Well folks, I've been flying drones for many years now with 10s of thousands invested and I applaud the park service for banning drones. I don't even want to imagine the chaos that would ensue if every tourist could buzz Half Dome with their Spark or even Inspire. We have to draw a line somewhere and simply enjoy the quiet of nature. Yes, Yosemite valley is busy and noisy but walk a little way from the road and it's lovely. Add a drone and the quiet is ruined.

I'm not usually on the side of the federal government but in this case, I'm grateful. There are plenty of profitable drone business models and places to enjoy flying your drone that are legal and don't annoy other people so profoundly. Thanks for obeying this law, it's really important to me.

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1 hour ago, Trip Jennings said:

We have to draw a line somewhere and simply enjoy the quiet of nature. Yes, Yosemite valley is busy and noisy but walk a little way from the road and it's lovely. Add a drone and the quiet is ruined.

There’s a term for that— NIMBY not in my backyard.  As long as everyone else accommodates your sensibilities then it’s ok?

I don’t think drones should be allowed at all.  Anywhere!  Does that work for you?  

You also assume that drones will be everywhere if people are allowed to fly them.  Can you provide the evidence that would support that assumption?

In a country with more than 300,000,000 people less than .5%  have actually seen a drone fly in person let alone flown one.  It’s just not the problem your making it out to be.  Would there be the occasional drone that disturbs your tranquility?  Sure, so what!  

Does your right for peace and quite out weight my right to make noise?  Laws and restrictions are not the way to solve these issues.  I have a civil right to operate a drone and people have to justify the restriction of my rights with something more that wild ass speculation.  

The PROBLEMS that drones represent have not materialized anywhere near the scale on which they’ve been reported.  Here’s a thought, how about we put some common sense guidelines out, not that you can’t fly in a national park but if your going to here’s some things you should do to be considerate of others and let’s see what happens.  

One of us would be surprised.  If it becomes a “real” problem then regulate it.  

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want drones, or motorcycles, Motorhomes, climbers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, horses, mountain bikes, airplanes, cell phones, cars, people, radios, tent trailers, campgrounds, boats, obnoxious children, or anything else to disturb your quiet time with nature.  

But do you get to decide where that line is drawn?  Where will you draw it?  Also, you can hear a motorcycle at the entrance of the park at half dome.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Lavar said:

Well, I certainly appreciate all of the responding comments to my initial question. Personally I like Dave Pitman's idea of designating certain days and a limited number of permits.  Perhaps they could require a drone pilot to have their FAA Part 107 Certificate so the pilot would know not to fly over people or harass wildlife, for example.  Anyway, I'm getting so frustrated with all of the varied restrictions by each State, County, or small town, that I'm about to sell my DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO with all of my accessories to the highest bidder and abandon finishing the Part 107 course that I paid $250 for, and abandon my hopes to perhaps provide drone photography services to my community in ways I know would be beneficial.  If things aren't changed soon I'm afraid this rapidly growing drone industry will take a downward dive that will devastate everyone one involved.  Like most investments,  maybe it's best we all sell out while we can maybe get something out of our investment. As you can tell, I'm pretty frustrated as I've only been able to fly my drone twice in the past year due to all of the restrictions.  I'm one who will do all I can to adhere to all of the varied restrictions so, for me, it's almost impossible to ever find a place where drone photography is allowed.  PLEASE, FAA, HELP ALL OF US THAT ARE INVOLVED IN THIS 'RAPIDLY GROWING INDUSTRY' BEFORE IT COLLAPSES TO NOTHING.

Take a breath.  There are certianly a lot of people who may share your frustration.  However, your view of the commercial drone market might be a little short sighted and myopic.

The commercial drone market is much more than hanging a camera on a toy drone to make money with marginal aerial photography and the good news is that it’s at the very embryonic stage, it hasn’t really started yet.  

You can probably here my frustration in my sarcasm, but you might be overreacting. I don’t know where you live but its a big country and even a bigger sky you should be able to find lots of places to do AP.  

Have you ever heard the expression “The letter of the Law” and “The Intent of the Law?”  The intent of rule107 is to make commercial operations manageable and to keep everyone safe.  If you try to follow it to the letter of the law it will be neither.  

I am not advocating for breaking the law, but if you believe that you MUST follow the letter of the law then you had better not be one of those people who drive your Prius with your emergency flashers below the minimum speed limit in order to save gas or ever drive faster than the speed limit...

If your not willing to challenge the authority of the National Park Service, that’s ok, unless the town you live in is in a park, otherwise I’m sure there are opportunities to provide service to your local community.  

Also, if your flying for the love of flying and shooting AP becuase you love photography, you have as much right to fly as a hobbyists as the people who might say that you can’t. Tell them to pound sand.  

You might find this interesting:  https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6426099585646764032/?ck_subscriber_id=175784303

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The struggle over where one's rights end, and another's begins, is the age old fight of our legal system.  As it stands now, flying a drone is a privilege, and not a right.  Just as flying a plane, or driving a car, are privileges that can be taken away if abused.  The obvious difference being that you don't HAVE to be licensed to fly a drone, only register it with the FAA because your drone will be in the National Airspace.  Getting angry and venting your frustrations at others here won't change that.  As with any law in our great nation, if you don't like it, work to get it changed.

If you go to the National Park Services web site, they have posted why they have banned drone flight in the National Park System.  Quite frankly, I agree with them.  Though I would love to be able to get some of the wonderful locations on video, I understand that they are currently not staffed, nor equipped, to police every drone that might be brought into our National Parks.  Their site even states that this may change, but at the time the decision was made they already had a lot of problems out of drone pilots, so until they could figure out a solution that could work for everyone, they would ban drone flights for now.  Drones that the average BestBuy, or HHGreg shopper could buy and learn to fly in a few minutes are still very new to the market.  A very short time ago, you didn't just buy a drone that could launch itself, and basically fly itself.  It took practice and some skill to fly a drone.  Recent advances in HD camera technology, and drone technology, have opened the doors to any Joe Shmoe who wants an aerial photo of ....well....anything!  Here again as usual, selfish drone pilots have ruined it for those of us who fly with common sense and courtesy.

What really annoys me are all of the YouTube videos made by drone pilots crying over the fine they were given for flying in a National Park (or for breaking any of the laws for that matter).  The vast majority that I have seen claim ignorance of the law as their defense.  If you are going to a National Park, and haven't looked up the rules of the parks, it's on you.  Take your fine and quit whining lol.  Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense for breaking the law.

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3 hours ago, Lavar said:
12 minutes ago, Samuel H. said:

As it stands now, flying a drone is a privilege, and not a right.  Just as flying a plane, or driving a car, are privileges that can be taken away if abused. 

 

The right that I’m talking about is my right to make a living and that is not a privilege that can be taken away.  

The ability to pursue one’s profession or “common calling” is one of the limited number of foundational rights protected under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Toomer v. Witsell, 334 U.S. 385, 396 (1948); see also United Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. Camden, 465 U.S. 208, 219 (1984) (“Certainly, the pursuit of a common calling is one of the most fundamental of those privileges protected by the Clause.”).”

—- “Getting angry and venting your frustrations at others here won't change that.  As with any law in our great nation, if you don't like it, work to get it changed.”

I’m neither angry or venting, just suggesting people should stand up for the rights they already have.  As far as my involvement in working to get it changed, I’m one of the founders of http://www.acuas.org/ and helped prepare the brief that was presented to the OMB and congress as part of the approval of part 107.  

28 minutes ago, Samuel H. said:

Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense for breaking the law.

I guess it depends on your acceptance of the law or how you define ignorance.  Posting “Rules” on a website does not make them a Law. There’s a process the government has to go through in order to create a law.  Did the Park Service go through that process?  

35 minutes ago, Samuel H. said:

Their site even states that this may change, but at the time the decision was made they already had a lot of problems out of drone pilots, so until they could figure out a solution that could work for everyone,

So how many drone pilots is a problem? 1, 10, 100, 1000 or more?  When do you think they’ll get around to coming up with a solution that will work for everyone?  Define EVERYONE!  There are way more people who believe that humans should not be allowed in these parks at all then there are people who want to fly drones there.  Is that the everyone?  

Ignorance of how these rules are made is not a defense for blindly following them either. 

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As you said, the right to pursue a profession (not succeed in said profession) is protected.  I suppose I don't understand how not being allowed to film in a national park is limiting your success as a UAS pilot/professional.  I'm not here to listen to someone list their qualifications, impressive as they might be.  I was merely commenting on a forum post with my opinion, nothing more.  I wasn't trying to add fuel a debate that will not be solved by our discussions here.

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As always, everyone has an opinion and that's good.  Although my initial question was about no drone photography in National Parks, my biggest issue is that there seem to be no consistent laws that govern drone flight.  On this fantastic trip to Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, we passed through a lot of beautiful scenery.  We would look up the local drone laws for each area we thought was picture worthy to see if it was lawful for us to fly a drone.  Some areas were just fine with very light restrictions while others had more stringent rules.  The inconsistency became a real eye-opener.   Like so many other drone enthusiasts, I've only been flying drones for maybe 3 years.  I have many years under my belt building and flying remote-controlled aircraft and saw drone photography as another opportunity to get in the air.  My wife and I both love photography and were very excited about the possibilities that drones could provide us in the world of nature photography.  So far we have been disappointed.   

Like one responder on this topic, I too love the serenity of the National Parks.  I'm sure I would not be happy if there was a sky full of drones at some of these most tranquil locations.  That said, I would advocate for 'restricted' drone photography in National Parks but not a flat-out no-fly zone restriction.   I don't have the answer for this but I'm sure together we all could come up with something that makes sense.  I know I came across many beautiful areas within the National Parks where there were no people that I would have bothered at all but would have still had some beautiful photography to share.  

Anyway, I feel we need consistent laws governing drone flight and that every little town should be obliged to live by these laws and not come up with so many varied versions that keep all of us wondering if we can fly or not.  

Also, commenting on my earlier post about the possible demise of this entire industry if something isn't done and soon, I offer these additional remarks.  If any of you have been involved with the  business world as long as I have, 43 years, you will recognize how many fads that have come and gone because, what seems to be a great thing at the time, fades due to a wide variety of reasons but some fade due to lack of or too many laws that become not restrictive enough of way to restrictive.  My personal observation and opinion are just that this wonderful drone industry has the potential of dwindling away like so many other industries if fair and consistent regulations aren't put in place soon.  There is way too much positive potential for this industry to see it fade into oblivion due to the lack of consistent regulations that allow for the safe and considerate use of the drones that we so love.

I would certainly love to be on a national committee that helped to identify and present regulations that would make this industry more than just a passing craze.

 

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Hi all,

I responded to this post a few days ago but for some reason my post never got posted.

Last fall I requested and received permits to fly and photograph 23 campsites within the Coconino National Forest, around Sedona/ Flagstaff, AZ. I also was awarded a permit In the Cherokee National forest in Tennessee last summer.

You just have to contact the ranger in charge of permitting for the park of interest, supply a flight plan, proof of insurance that additionally insures The United States of America, and provide a compelling reason for making the flight/ doing the photography. If you don't have a good enough reason, you won't get a permit. Apparently my projects were worthy of the permits.

Owen

ps. photos had to be drastically resized to attach...

Cave Spring Campground-45.jpg

Clear Creek-11.jpg

Crescent Moon-1.jpg

Watauga Dam-28.jpg

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Allright, my bad. There are two different threads - one is about National Parks, the other is about National Forests. Newbie confusion - so sorry.

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I heard you can ask permission from the local government if you want to take photos and videos of a restricted national park. Have you tried?

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But wait - there's more!  In this case he got locked up but just suppose that he was attacked and killed (rightly so).  The family then sues the US Park Service Police for not having protected him (from himself)! Not as crazy as it sounds.

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You may be interested to know this weird twist. You can fly in a federal wilderness area, but you can't land or take off in one. I have no problem with that as anything with a motor is prohibited. The reasoning is that the FAA controls the airspace and the Park Service controls the ground. And no, I don't know the regs on manned flight.

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