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I am in the processing of contacting the FAA about an idea I think may be of interest to drone pilots. I would like to see one day a week or month whereby drone pilots would be permitted to fly missions commercially or for enjoyment in our National Parks. It is a shame that with all the drone pilots, we are prohibited from photographing some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Recently I was at an event at a State Park that prohibits drones. However, they allowed a vendor in with one of the noisiest generators I have ever heard. All the excuses for not allowing drones in our National or State Parks are weak. When a drone is two or three hundred feet up, you cannot hear it and very likely unseen by man or animal. And there is very little chance of a crash into people. How do we change the laws?

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I can’t imagine anyone at the FAA will actually read it, but having said that it’s worth a try.

23 hours ago, James Duke said:

How do we change the laws?

 The best way to change laws is to understand how they’re created and get involve in their creation.  It literally takes an act of Congress to change existing laws. 

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I just traveled across the US with my drone. I wanted to fly my drone in so many places, but they were National Parks. Being PART 107, I would just get into even more trouble. It would be nice to be able to fly in those places. If somehow you do get that passed, you might get a large amount of drone pilots in one area. that can become another issue.

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The National Park Service (NPS) carries out its responsibilities in parks and programs under the authority of Federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, and in accord with policies established by the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior. The NPS’ ban on drone use is a policy, not a law or regulation. Specifically, Policy Memorandum 14-05, released by the National Park Service (NPS) director in June 2014, directed each superintendent to use the authority under 36 CFR 1.5 (CFR is the Code of Federal Regulations) to prohibit the launching, landing, or operation of unmanned aircraft, subject to the certain conditions and exceptions set forth in the memo. 

Policies are designed to improve the internal management of the National Park Service. They are management tools, not enforceable legal tools. 

Regulations are mechanisms for implementing laws and for enforcing established policies. Regulations have the force and effect of law, and violations of the same are punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both.

Laws are enacted by Congress with (and in some circumstances without) the approval of the President. 

Section 1.5 gives the NPS its authority regarding “Closures and public use limits”. Section 1.5 (b) states in part: “Except in emergency situations, a closure, designation, use or activity restriction or condition, or the termination or relaxation of such, which is of a nature, magnitude and duration that will result in a significant alteration in the public use pattern of the park area, adversely affect the park's natural, aesthetic, scenic or cultural values, require a long-term or significant modification in the resource management objectives of the unit, or is of a highly controversial nature, shall be published as rulemaking in the Federal Register.”

The NPS has an additional burden. It must state the reason(s) the restriction, condition, public use limit or closure authorized by paragraph has been established, and an explanation of why less restrictive measures will not suffice.

In summary, the NPS appears to be implementing a policy, which it enforces as a regulation without going through the formal Federal rulemeaking process that includes soliciting public comment. Perhaps the NPS has taken steps about which I am unaware. I am not a lawyer and likely another reader has more accurate or more current information on this topic. I understand the NPS’ concerns but this may be a case where there is a more reasoned, less restrictive policy (regulation) that the NPS can implement rather than a total ban. 

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As I have said before, we need a National Drone Association (NDA) to advocate for a booming industry.  Lobbying Congress, the FAA and participating in the Federal Rulemaking Process.  Drones are no more obtrusive than 4 wheelers, motorcycles and other vehicles in National Parks, but there needs to be balance between having the parks overwhelmed with drones while others are trying to enjoy the solitude of nature.

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17 hours ago, SEAKdrones said:

The NPS has an additional burden. It must state the reason(s) the restriction, condition, public use limit or closure authorized by paragraph has been established, and an explanation of why less restrictive measures will not suffice.

What @SEAKdrones said.  They enforce policies as if they’re regulations and no one holds them accountable. Unfortunately there are a ton of drone operators who defend the park service apparently thinking if they do they will eventually be more reasonable.  

 

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