U.S. News


National Park Service To Ban Drones From 400 Parks

The National Park Service announced Friday it has moved to ban drones from all of the 401 national parks in the U.S.
Posted at 8:57 AM, Jun 21, 2014

If you were planning on bringing a drone to any of the national park areas in the U.S., think again.

"The National Park Service is taking steps to ban drones from its 401 national parks and 84 million acres. Officials say the unmanned aircraft annoy visitors, harass wildlife and threaten safety." (Via WRAL)

CNN reports officials announced Friday drones, or any unmanned aircraft, will be prohibited from all NPS-controlled areas. This includes monuments, historic sites, battlefields, rivers and trails. National park area superintendents have until Aug. 20 to start enforcing the ban.

In a statement released by the U.S. National Park Service, Director Jonathan Jarvis said the decision all came down to noise and safety. "We have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy."

Some park goers said on Twitter they're pleased with the ban, while others told reporters they think it's unfair.

A California artist who uses his drone to film national parks told The Wall Street Journal he understands limiting the devices for safety reasons, "but an outright ban is a kneejerk reaction. ... I equate my drone with what Ansel Adams did with his box camera."

But, as USA Today notes, the National Park Service points to three separate incidents to justify the ban. First, last September, an unmanned aircraft flew above visitors at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Amphitheater. In April, visitors at the Grand Canyon watching the sunset were distracted by one that eventually crashed into the canyon. And later that month, another one reportedly disturbed a herd of bighorn sheep at Zion National Park.

The National Park Service's decision falls into the larger effort of determining how to make the best use of drones.

Commercial drones are currently illegal. As Gizmodo points out, the Federal Aviation Administration is coming up with rules for their use, but the process is expected to take a few more years.

For now, the National Park Service ban is temporary until officials propose a specific federal regulation for drones, which is expected to take about 18 months.