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Drone Use on (and over) Public Lands

Apparently many people have very strong feelings about #drones. So what do I think about drones?

I think like many tools humans have invented, drones (aka UAV’s or unmanned aerial vehicles) have their place in our society. I’m not anti-drone per say, but I am anti-drone in areas that they are banned, especially when that ban covers public lands.

Why? Primarily because I find them to be a disruptive nuisance to my peaceful enjoyment of our public lands. Over desert hardscapes and water ways where sound travels easily, you can easily hear them upwards of a mile away. In heavy use areas, one drone can ruin the peace and quiet for 100’s of people. There’s nothing like some yahoo firing up his/her drone in a wilderness area and overpowering the sound of wind/birds/water with an obnoxious, incessant buzzing.

Ultimately that nuisance is just that, a nuisance. So what about other issues? Drones impact wildlife (see the video of the momma bear and cub being followed by a #drone), crash where they can’t be recovered (see the incident at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone), impact firefighting activities (illegal drone operation has shut down aerial firefighting activities in NM, ID, WA, CO, CA, & MT), and pose a safety risk to other humans (see the drone that hit triathlete Raija Odgen or almost hit ski racer Marcel Hirscher).

If you want to operate a drone I really don’t care, as long as you do it legally. But it’s the operators responsibility to know the rules. No drone zones are easily researched online, but considering that this page is about public lands, let me make a broad generalization.  Drones are not allowed in our national parks or our wilderness areas and are often restricted over other public lands. Beyond that, just because you legally can doesn’t mean you should.

There are many drone advocates who are working to legalize drones in more places. If you choose to operate a drone illegally, know that you are undermining the efforts of these people. And know that if you choose to post about your illegal escapades on social media that there are plenty of people out there (like me) who would love to report your illegal drone use to the proper authorities.

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